American low-cost carrier JetBlue is planning to introduce in-flight Wi-Fi for passengers, though it admits there’s still “a lot of testing” to be done by the Federal Aviation Administration before it’ll be able to launch.
The airline said in a blog post Wednesday that the new service – called Fly-Fi and powered by Exede Internet – will be “smarter, newer, faster and better” than services offered by rival carriers.
“Most fliers probably agree that in-flight Wi-Fi is a cool concept, but those who have tried it don’t love the options they have today,” JetBlue said, referring to a survey [pdf] conducted last year by flight tracking website FlightView that found only 31 percent of plane passengers were happy with their in-flight Wi-Fi experiences.
The carrier promised its service will offer a much better experience that will “satisfy the increasing appetite for connectivity across multiple devices.” There’s currently no word on whether it will be provided free of charge.
For passengers flying with JetBlue in the immediate future who are looking forward to the idea of jumping online during their flight, it’s not all good news, as the New York-based company explained in its post.
“The up-side is, you’ll soon be able to experience Wi-Fi connections that do more than just frustrate you, the down-side is that because it’s a completely new way to deliver connectivity, there’s still a lot of testing to be done before the FAA signs off and our customers start seeing it on their JetBlue flights.” The airline said it hopes to start operating the service “later this year.”
An apparent internal email that came to light last September suggested a Wi-Fi service would be rolled out by JetBlue in the first three months of this year, something which clearly won’t be happening. The email indicated how much importance the airline placed on in-flight connectivity as a feature of its service.
“Currently, Wi-Fi on board is a competitive advantage. Customers, especially those traveling for business, with everything else being equal, will choose the airline that offers connectivity, even if the service is spotty or expensive,” it said.
To show off the speed of the forthcoming Fly-Fi service, JetBlue posted a short video (below) showing how much faster pages load with the Exede Internet-powered service compared to rival providers such as Gogo and Row44, though it added that “actual speeds for all products will generally vary.”