JetBlue Launching Free In-Flight WiFi In 2016 - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Business
News
10/15/2015
12:05 PM
50%
50%

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.

Gartner: 10 Radical Changes Coming To IT
Gartner: 10 Radical Changes Coming To IT
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

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

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
progman2000
50%
50%
progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
10/15/2015 | 4:43:47 PM
It's about freaking time
I hope the other carriers follow suit. Wifi should be available and you should not have to turn off your damn electronic devices. Come on already airlines!!!
vnewman2
50%
50%
vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
10/15/2015 | 8:22:33 PM
Re: It's about freaking time
This is one of the reasons I've always liked JetBlue - it's the little that matter.  And although JetBlue has done some "typical airline" type of things like charging for checked bags - I understand their hand has been forced in order to stay competitive.  But wifi is turning into a necessity; not a luxury - and I'm glad somebody finally "gets it."  I just wish they flew to more cities.  Ditto to Virgin America.
tjgkg
50%
50%
tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/17/2015 | 8:13:05 AM
Re: It's about freaking time
I got hit with the checked luggage fee last month on JetBlue which really annoyed me! And from time to time their inflight and/or wifi systems do not work. Fortunately i was on short flights so it did not matter as i could just listen to music or watch videos on my iPhone. While JB's service is far superior to most other domestic airlines, they have to get their electronics together. For international flights i like British Airways. Especially with all my frequent flyer miles!!!
Gary_EL
50%
50%
Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
10/16/2015 | 2:42:22 AM
Re: It's about freaking time
I just hope they keep the free TV for those of us who just want to veg out ☺
Whoopty
50%
50%
Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
10/16/2015 | 7:45:55 AM
Pretty cool
It's pretty cool to see tech like this becoming more common place. I hope (and would imagine they are) taking appropriate security into account, like keeping this network well away from the one used for all important flight systems and communication with ground control. 

That said, I'm interested to see what sort of entertainment this type of connectivity would bring. There must be some new types of games that could be played in-flight because of it.
jagibbons
50%
50%
jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
10/16/2015 | 12:53:13 PM
Re: Pretty cool
There's a definite need for strong security and segmentation.

I haven't flown JetBlue, but it sounds like truly free WiFi, unlike some carriers that only give you free WiFi for a very limited set of their own content.
vnewman2
50%
50%
vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
10/16/2015 | 1:54:09 PM
Re: Pretty cool
If nothing else, one thing I would like to see come out of this is that Go Go wifi will have to lower their prices.  Since its inception, the prices have become completely unreasonable to the point where I refused to log on based on principle alone.
jagibbons
50%
50%
jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
10/16/2015 | 2:01:12 PM
Re: Pretty cool
I second that sentiment. Usually, I prefer to veg a little during flights. The high cost or unavailability of WiFi gives me an excuse to unplug from work. However, sometimes there are things that have to get done and the ability, whether or not I use it, would be appreciated.
PedroGonzales
50%
50%
PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
10/16/2015 | 11:00:22 PM
Re: Pretty cool
I can imagine that a lot of people will be very happy with having Wi-Fi on their flight.  I do know whether wifi connectivity will be an important factor that will impact customer choice from one airline to another. I know for business travelers it will be a great feature.  I use delta and I do not mind not having Wi-Fi on a flight.  Would IT professionals choose an airline and be willing to pay extra for Wi-Fi?
tjgkg
50%
50%
tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/17/2015 | 8:04:25 AM
Re: Pretty cool
Some airlines (JetBlue I believe for one) already have free wifi. Others do not. While having wifi is a good feature on the surface, the question is how would the performance be if a lot of folks are using it at the same time? I ask this because i have run into problems at hotels with wifi and the performance is spotty at best-especially in Europe. Even worse if you are doing a Webex or Facetime.
jagibbons
50%
50%
jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
10/17/2015 | 9:38:06 AM
Re: Pretty cool
Unsure about the bandwidth, but from a common courtesy standpoint, using WebEx or Facetime could be pretty rude to your fellow passengers.
Broadway0474
50%
50%
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?
jagibbons
50%
50%
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
50%
50%
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.
kstaron
50%
50%
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
50%
50%
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.
tjgkg
50%
50%
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
50%
50%
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.
tjgkg
50%
50%
tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/17/2015 | 8:00:16 AM
Re: Pretty cool
Sort of reminds me of the Air Phone from the late 90's. The airlines had these phones embedded into the back of a headrest so that people can use them to make calls. The prices were so insanely expensive that the AirPhone's soon disappeared. I think the wifi options will remain because our culture has completely changed from the "old days" but i think the prices will eventually come down.

The one thing i do NOT want to see is allowing cell phone calls on flights. That would be a catasrophe.
jagibbons
50%
50%
jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
10/17/2015 | 9:39:20 AM
Re: Pretty cool
Agreed. On a long flight, silence is golden.
tjgkg
50%
50%
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.
jagibbons
50%
50%
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
50%
50%
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?
tjgkg
50%
50%
tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/17/2015 | 8:09:06 AM
Re: Pretty cool
Jet Blue is a very good airline. From my experiences with them, their service is superior to many of the larger airlines. Their wifi is free-but you never know if it is going to be available or not. Same with their inflight entertainment. I've been on flights where both did not work. While i got credits from JB, it was somewhat inconvenient.
Commentary
Get Your Enterprise Ready for 5G
Mary E. Shacklett, Mary E. Shacklett,  1/14/2020
Commentary
Modern App Dev: An Enterprise Guide
Cathleen Gagne, Managing Editor, InformationWeek,  1/5/2020
Slideshows
9 Ways to Improve IT and Operational Efficiencies in 2020
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  1/2/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Slideshows
Flash Poll