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JetBlue CEO teases free Wi-Fi for all

JetBlue's wifi plan
JetBlue is deploying new Ka-band technology to try to boost the onboard wi-fi experience.Courtesy JetBlue

As JetBlue gets set to install satellite-based Wi-Fi on its first aircraft, it is considering a game-changing move — making it available to passengers for free beyond the initial promotional period.

JetBlue has been slow in joining the Wi-Fi parade, and as it readies its first installations of Ka-band-based Wi-Fi from ViaSat in the next few months, JetBlue CEO Dave Barger notes that the Wi-Fi will be free on the first 30 A320 aircraft.

That had been previously announced.

But, kicking off the The J.P. Morgan Aviation, Transportation & Defense Conference on Monday, Barger held out hope that the promotional free-Wi-Fi pricing could become permanent.

Barger told the attendees, "In essence, the entire aircraft will have the enjoyment of Wi-Fi should they decide to participate with the product, which we announced would be free for the first 30 aircraft that we install across the A320 fleet."

"And we’re evaluating pricing into the future, including keeping it free, and so we’ll see how that plays out,” Barger said.

JetBlue’s first checked bags are free, and making its satellite-based Wi-Fi free would certainly be a differentiator from other airlines.

Southwest Airlines, for example, has picked up market share with its Bags Fly Free campaign, allowing two free checked bags, but Southwest just raised its Wi-Fi rates to $8 per device.

Read more about this story at Skift.