JetBlue Launching Free In-Flight WiFi In 2016 - InformationWeek

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10/15/2015
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JetBlue Launching Free In-Flight WiFi In 2016

JetBlue will be able to offer free WiFi service across its entire fleet by the fall of 2016.

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Low-cost airline carrier JetBlue is stepping up its efforts to provide its customers with free in-flight WiFi. The company announced that it has completed installation of Fly-Fi -- the name of its satellite-based service -- on its fleet of more than 150 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft.

In addition, JetBlue's first Fly-Fi-enabled E190 aircraft made its official inaugural flight this week. The airline anticipates it will complete the installation of Fly-Fi on all 60 of its E190s by fall 2016, at which point it will have finished the installation of Fly-Fi on the entire JetBlue fleet.

Fly-Fi uses Ka-band satellite technology to offer a broadband Internet experience similar to something customers have at home, including the ability to stream video and use multiple devices at once.

In an effort to improve the in-flight WiFi experience, JetBlue has also formed partnerships with a variety of media companies, including Amazon, MLB at Bat, and The Wall Street Journal.

(Image: rypson/iStockphoto)

(Image: rypson/iStockphoto)

JetBlue and Amazon are also preparing to bring unlimited, on-demand entertainment to passengers with the upcoming launch of Amazon Video onboard, giving Amazon Prime members instant streaming access to tens of thousands of movies and television episodes in-flight, at no additional cost with their membership.

"Soon every JetBlue customer will step onboard knowing their aircraft is equipped with free, fast Internet and entertainment, the same way they expect our friendly service and the most legroom in coach," Jamie Perry, vice president of brand and product development for JetBlue, wrote in an Oct. 14 statement. "Our Fly-Fi model has proven that there is a way to offer customers more without adding extra costs to their travel."

Customers connected to Fly-Fi, which boasts speeds of up to 20 Mbps per device, can also access content on The Hub, which hosts a growing collection of entertainment, educational content, news, and video from Vox Media, PBS, National Geographic, and others.

The company currently carries more than 32 million customers a year to 91 cities in the US, the Caribbean, and Latin America with an average of 875 daily flights.

Offering WiFi on domestic flights is not unusual, but JetBlue's complimentary service and focus on faster speeds could go a long way to assuaging customer complaints of spotty connectivity and middling value for money.

Virgin America's Gogo ATG-4 service also gets high marks, but there's more work to be done.

A 2014 report from Honeywell Aerospace indicated that in-flight WiFi is becoming increasingly influential on passengers' buying choices, including flight selections. In some cases, they will even pay more for a specific flight because of its wireless options.

[Read about AT&T offering WiFi calling.]

Nearly one in four (22%) surveyed admitted they've paid more for a flight with WiFi, and nearly one in five (17%) have switched from their preferred airline because another carrier had better WiFi offerings.

A more recent survey conducted by connected airline specialist SITA OnAir found that, while passengers want in-flight connectivity, very few expect to pay for it.

More than 20 airlines around the world are providing free in-flight WiFi today. According to SITA OnAir's estimates, more than double will do so by 2020.

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2015 | 10:25:47 AM
Re: Pretty cool
I actually have the Bose QC25's which are excellent. But they drown out jet noise, not obnoxious and smelly passengers... Maybe Bose makes special nose plugs as well?
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2015 | 8:34:27 AM
Re: Pretty cool
I'd recommend some good earplugs or a nice set of Bose noise-cancellation headphones. Well worth the cost.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2015 | 7:47:40 AM
Re: Pretty cool
Now if there was only a way to enforce the silence! I've been on red eyes from the west coast to the east coast and it was like a party. Sometimes you can't win. I think the only truly quiet places on a commercial flight are in first class on a large plane and upstairs on a 747.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2015 | 7:45:43 AM
Re: Pretty cool
That is so true. There was a recent incident where Governor Christie was screaming into his cell phone in an Amtrak Quiet Car! Even in a non quiet car that is rude. But unfortunately it happens everywhere, even when you pay extra for the quiet.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
11/4/2015 | 7:43:52 AM
Re: Pretty cool
Well I did not say i was using those services on a plane. However you do need the bandwidth in hotels to use those services there.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
10/27/2015 | 10:48:44 PM
Re: Pretty cool
kstaron, I don't know how the airlines can regulate anything beyond noise level of what people do on wi-fi. I have  been on the train with people creating personal hotspots and caught and heard glimpses of things that had no business being in public. It really comes down to people knowing how to behave in public, and there will always be people who simply don't know how to.
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
10/27/2015 | 1:42:24 PM
Re: Pretty cool
I like the idea of free wifi on planes, but of course there's the fact I may not have control over what the person next to/ in front of me is doing with that wifi. Will I hear snippets of someone's skype conversation? Or worse snippets of somebody's 'adult' movie? Haven't flown where there's readily available wifi recently. Do the airlines rely on people to behave or do they have some basic, 'you're in public people' kind of rules?
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
10/23/2015 | 11:59:05 AM
Re: Pretty cool
To be honest, I bet you in-flight dating is already happening. Certain dating apps only connect you with people within close proximity. Any flight attendants in the house? There must be some crazy stories of complete strangers on a long flight breaking cabin rules.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
10/21/2015 | 10:52:59 PM
Re: Pretty cool
I'm very thankful for my noise-canceling headphones. In-flight dating sound a little creepy. Let's hope that never comes about.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
10/21/2015 | 10:36:50 PM
Re: Pretty cool
Webex and Facetime type apps should be like cellphone usage on planes --- technically possible but forbidden. Too much already exists to agitate people before, during and after flights. What else can people do with this free wi-fi to drive others insane? How about in-flight dating services?
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