On December 12, JetBlue unleashed its first three flights with Wi-Fi availability. As one of the last remaining U.S. airlines to expand Wi-Fi access, JetBlue’s doing its best to show that they’re worth the wait.
Partnering up with LiveTV and ViaSat’s satellite system, JetBlue is introducing Fly-Fi, a high-speed broadband via satellite connection. JetBlue claims that this internet service is comparable to one’s online experience at home, thanks largely to the high-speed bandwidth and the attractive pricing. And with good bandwidth comes less of a struggle between flyers to stay connected.
And to sweeten the deal…
As the Wi-Fi service has just been released, it’s still in the beta testing stage – there will probably be a few glitches here and there. For the first six months (through June 2014), the basic Wi-Fi, called Simply Surf, will be free. Airline passengers can use it to browse, shop, download, upload, post on social media, read the news, check emails, among other low-use broadband activities. For those determined to play video games or stream videos, there is the $9.99 an hour Fly-Fi Plus—and you can stop and start the exact times of use yourself.
Apart from the obvious incentive to charge for more bandwidth use, JetBlue is smart to charge for streaming. According to ViaSat, the bandwidth is around 12mbps but if fifty to seventy people were all streaming videos, the speed would definitely start to lag.
JetBlue’s New Year makeover
JetBlue intends to take advantage of the high-speed Wi-Fi service by orchestrating surprise in-flight activities via social media. And the whole in-flight Wi-Fi atmosphere may change at the hands of JetBlue if they decide to keep the Wi-Fi free after the six months.
The high-speed Wi-Fi is not the only thing JetBlue has planned for 2014. Midway through the new year, more premium seating options will be available to daytime passengers. JetBlue’s Mint seat will be the new affordable luxury class seat, able to recline to a completely flat position, carry a massage feature, and even be attached to private doors. Flying will really feel like being in that comfy chair at home more than ever.
Future plans for the Wi-Fi
As far as landing on a JetBlue flight with Wi-Fi, the information is posted a few days in advance on the airline’s blog. Currently, there are four Airbus A320s that have Fly-Fi installed, so the chances are not too likely. Still, stay tuned because the availability will only get better.
Looking ahead, the plan is to install the satellite internet service into JetBlue’s entire fleet in the course of two years, steadily bringing connectivity to a few more planes each month. Right now, the ViaSat network only covers the continental United States, but a second satellite will be launched mid-2016 for coverage over Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic Ocean “bridge” to Europe.
If you ever needed more of a reason to use travel points and rewards from your credit cards, now is the time! Who knows, you might be seeing this message in-flight already.