JetBlue Bringing Broadband WiFi To Planes… Eventually

The good news for air travelers: JetBlue has just announced a plan to install satellite-based WiFi internet access on their planes that it promises will deliver “the industry’s best in-flight broadband for commercial aviation.” The not as good news: It’s going to take a while.

JetBlue has partnered with a company called ViaSat to roll out this technology in their planes. But the very fact that it is new tech is what will keep it from being a reality for over a year.

From NorthJersey.com:

The system first has to be tested and then certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. JetBlue and ViaSat expect to begin rollout on the fleet’s more than 160 planes by mid-2012. It’s unclear how long it will take to complete — or how much customers will have to pay for the access.

According to a rep for the airline, when this new WiFi is up and running, “It will probably feel much like what you have at home.”

JetBlue plans to install broadband WiFi [NorthJersey.com]

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  1. StuffThingsObjects says:

    Well that’s just plane nice of them!

  2. RxDude says:

    They better not charge too much, though, or the whole idea will go down in flames.

  3. DarthCoven says:

    JetBlue would do well to offer this service for free on their flights. The only time I had the pleasure of in flight WiFi was on AirTran a year ago and I believe I paid 10 bucks for the privilege. With the SW/AT merger JetBlue could stay a step ahead by keeping it free like their DirecTV/SatRadio offerings.

  4. DriverB says:

    I’m torn. While it would be great to surf a bunch of blogs during a flight, it’s sometimes nice to be unavailable for a good chunk of airtime. I foresee a lot more working-in-flight in our future. :(

  5. TaxMe says:

    If this is anything like SW WiFi rollout your going to wait a long, long time. Southwest has been testing/implementing their satellite based Internet for over 2 years and they only have it installed on less than 20 planes out of 500+ in the fleet. It’s going to take them another 2+ years before they have it rolled out. By then the competition, which uses terrestrial antennas, will have moved on to 4G which will have much better throughput than satellite. Satellite will have an advantage for overseas flights to Europe and Asia but I don’t think Jet Blue goes there.

  6. dreamfish says:

    “It will probably feel much like what you have at home.”

    Given the poor broadband internet that some on Consumerist have to put up with, that may not be the attractive proposition JetBlue think it is ;)

    Also, what ports/services are likely to be blocked? Skype/VOIP? Audio/video streaming?

  7. AllanG54 says:

    I always think it’s funny that people can’t live without the internet for the 3 or so hours that most flights are.

    • Etoiles says:

      I wouldn’t pay for it for the 45-90 minute flights I routinely take up and down the East coast. But for a 5-7 hour cross-country flight? Or, not necessarily on jetBlue, an international flight? For that 12-hour haul, it’d be worth it.

    • Gulliver says:

      Nobody said they could not live without it, but for those who want it, shouldn’t they have the ability to get it? Every person could live for 3 or more hours without a drink, but the airlines provide them to those who want them. You could also go that long without using a toilet, but they are provide for those who want to use them. Not everything in the world is based on what people can or can not live without.

  8. Blious says:

    Them putting the Wifi on planes is a solid start but pricing it well is the BIG FACTOR

    I refuse to pay more than a few bucks especially on flights that are just 1-2 hours.

    I don’t understand why these companies don’t offer deals that make sense such as buying a number of hours and they can roll over for other trips in the future…or something

  9. NeverLetMeDown says:

    Delta already has this on over 500 planes, it’s there almost always when I’m looking for it. You can get unlimited for $35/month, or buy a day pass ($13 for 24 hours), or a flight pass ($5 for less than 1.5 hrs, $10 for 1.5-3 hrs, and $13 for >3 hrs).

    Pretty good deal, I find. Lets me get work done on the flight, access to the corporate servers, etc.

  10. jp7570-1 says:

    American Airlines has had this in many domestic flights for the better part of a year now (GoGo inflight WiFi). I fly once to twice each week and don’t see that many people using the service, even for relatively long flights (2 hours or more). Even in the beginning when the service was free, few seemed intereted in getting online while in flight.

    That’s not to say it isn’t used by some. I did see one guy using his iPad to update his Facebook status whil in flight. But for me, if you can’t go for even a few hours without updating your status, maybe you have a bigger problem.

    In flight WiFi may be useful to those that absolutely have to send/receive e-mails without interruption. But for the rest of us, I suspect it will be underutilized, especially if we have to pay for it. (You know RyanAir will charge for it if they offer it.)

  11. CreekDog says:

    So Jet Blue figured out how to make money off the deal they made with these travelers who were perfectly happy with the original deal they thought they had with Jet Blue until Jet Blue cancelled it out from them.

    A big airline could’ve absorbed this and accomodated the travelers and moved on. Jet Blue decided to make some money off the deal.

    And now all of us and many others will read about it, the travelers will tell their friends and we will wonder when we book a trip how it will end up if we choose Jet Blue.

    Jet Blue saved probably $1000-$2000 by avoiding a full refund.

    Jeez, doesn’t sound so hot now, does it?