JetBlue has become the latest airline company to announce it will bring Wi-Fi to its fleet. The company, which flies across the US, will partner with ViaSat to install hardware that will enable broadband Internet, Usenet newsgroup and TV access on its 160 aircraft by the end of 2012.
JetBlue has certainly waited long enough to implement in-flight Wi-Fi – a service its competitors have long been touting. But, using a different technological approach to Wi-Fi in its cabins may boost the airline’s popularity among those that offer the service.
Demand is surging for Wi-Fi connections on airliners. Nearly all major U.S. carriers have or are rolling out inflight Internet service which would include access to Usenet newsgroups as well.
For JetBlue, moving into in-flight broadband is long overdue. The airline that pioneered seatback TVs has seemed a bit stagnant lately, especially in light of upstart Virgin America, which offers many of JetBlue’s bells and whistles, and then some. By adding wireless to its planes, and doing so with what could be an improved product, the airline would once again assert its position as an industry leader in customer amenities and service. Too bad we’ll have to wait at least two years to try it out.
AirTran Airways and Virgin America already have Wi-Fi on all their planes, Delta Air Lines expects to be finished installing it on all their domestic planes by the end of the year, and Southwest Airlines and American Airlines are in the process of rolling it out.