In a press release Tuesday morning, Alaska Airlines announced that they have selected the next-generation Gogo “2Ku” satellite Wi-Fi across their entire mainline fleet, including the Airbus aircraft being inherited from Virgin America.
Gogo’s 2Ku Wi-Fi offers broadband connection gives customers significantly faster connection speed to stream from applications such as Hulu, Netflix, and HBO GO onboard.
The 2Ku Wi-Fi was introduced in 2015 by Japan Airlines, and is present on a selection of Aeromexico, Delta, JTA, and GOL Airlines aircraft, among others. In a series of trials performed in 2016, the broadband internet was tested and offered an 11.71 Mbps download speed, a 656-millisecond ping, and an upload of 0.53 Mbps. The installation of the new broadband requires the installation of a radome, a hump looking object, on the top of the fuselage.
Alaska Airlines cited that 2Ku broadband, “delivers 20 times more bandwidth than Gogo’s air-to-ground (ATG) product and offers the freedom of having Wi-Fi virtually everywhere Alaska’s Boeing and Airbus mainline jets fly, including allowing guests to stay connected when traveling outside the continental U.S. to popular destinations like Hawaii, Mexico, and Costa Rica, where connectivity was previously unavailable.”
Maybe one of the best features that comes with the new Wi-Fi that is scheduled to be installed on at least 50 Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 series aircraft by the end of 2018 is the fact that passengers no longer have to wait until the aircraft reaches 10,000 feet to connect. That’s right; Gogo’s 2Ku internet works gate-to-gate, with speeds similar to
wireless carriers on the ground.
The pricing for the new connection has not been revealed yet, but Alaska Airlines has said that this will be announced in the “very near future.” Currently, Alaska offers three separate plans for passengers needing Wi-Fi in the air. The “Alaska All-Day Pass” offers 24 hours of continuous access to high-speed Wi-Fi on all compatible aircraft, but only where connection is available over the continental United States and parts of Canada, all for USD $16. The “Alaska 45 Minute 6-pack pass” is more expensive at $36, but offers six separate 45-minute Wi-Fi passes on all compatible aircraft and routes. For frequent flyers, the best bang for your buck is the $49.99 “Alaska Airlines Plan,” giving monthly internet access on all compatible flights, with a seamless subscription renewal each month.
In addition to the big announcement of Gogo 2Ku coming to the fleet, another rather notable announcement was made Tuesday morning regarding free chat and movies onboard all Virgin America aircraft. In addition to getting the new Gogo service, Virgin America Airbus planes will offer free chat and movies using iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger, which is already present on most Alaska Airlines aircraft after it’s induction earlier this year.
In the press release, Alaska Airlines chief commercial officer, Andrew Harrison, noted, “Free Chat and free movies are extremely popular on Alaska Airlines flights and we’re happy to extend these features to our guests flying with Virgin America,” Harrison said. “We continue to evaluate and evolve the onboard experience to deliver an exceptional and consistent guest experience at a great value.”
Featured photo from Max Trimm / Layoverhub.