New York-based JetBlue announced Wednesday that it is offering free Wi-Fi on all its flights. The service, called Fly-Fi, allows passengers to stream video and use multiple devices whether on the ground or in the air.
Once a high-priced (and notoriously unreliable) novelty, in-flight Wi-Fi is now an everyday amenity airlines are racing to provide.
According to Routehappy’s 2017 Wi-Fi report, more than 70 airlines worldwide now offer in-flight Wi-Fi in most regions of the globe, up from 59 last year. But with this announcement, JetBlue has clearly pulled out in front of the pack.
“It’s 2017 and our customers expect to be connected everywhere, whether that be from the comfort of their sofa or 35,000 above it,” said Jamie Perry, JetBlue's vice president of marketing. The company's entire fleet of 237 aircraft has been wired for Wi-Fi connectivity, he said.
A few other airlines do currently offer Wi-Fi for free — or almost free — notes Jason Rabinowitz, Routehappy’s Director of Airline Data.
“Norwegian does so on its 737s that have Wi-Fi installed,” he said, “While Emirates charges just $1.”
But Rabinowitz also points out that while JetBlue has Wi-Fi installed on 100 percent of its fleet, the carrier does not offer Wi-Fi on 100 percent of its flights.
“JetBlue operates many flights to the Caribbean and Latin America where coverage is not available for most or any of the flight,” said Rabinowitz. This means JetBlue’s Wi-Fi is only available within the contiguous United States.
“Virgin America, albeit with a much smaller fleet, now offers Wi-Fi on 100 percent of its fleet and flights,” he added, but the service is not free.