JetBlue and Alaska Airlines to offer free Wi-Fi on planes

JetBlue and Alaska Airlines to offer free Wi-Fi on planes
PHOTO: Reuters

2017 looks set to be a promising year for the aviation industry.

Passengers flying onboard Alaska Airlines and JetBlue can now surf the web, tweet and access WhatsApp in the air for free.

These two North American carriers recently announced their plans to improve their in-flight Wi-Fi service - a welcomed move for passengers who simply cannot disconnect.

Alaska Airlines, which also flies internationally to Mexico, Costa Rica and Cuba, is currently testing in-flight connectivity to selected messaging apps, AFP reported early this year.

These apps include Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp and iMessage, which will be available from Jan 24 onwards.

In place of pricing plans, passengers are only required to log into a "Gogo WiFi" account to register for Wi-Fi.

Not to be outdone, JetBlue joined the fray when it announced that all 227 planes on its domestic fleet will offer free Wi-Fi service.

Called the Fly-Fi service, the airline also claims to be the first to roll out "free high-speed Wi-Fi at every seat."

Powered by Amazon, the service allows passengers to stream shows from Amazon Video, shop and access a selection of messenger platforms.

According to AFP, long-haul airline Norwegian also provides free Wi-Fi on board. But the service is only offered on flights within Europe and between the USA and the Caribbean.

In-flight Wi-Fi services are not new, but the introduction of a free Internet access could very well herald a more competitive market.

Presently, international airlines such as Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and Japan Airlines charge a fee for in-flight connectivity. Even so, not every plane in the fleet provides the service.

debwong@sph.com.sg

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