One of the important on-board features for many passengers on flights these days is Wi-Fi service. While some flights charge customers to use their service, others are attempting to give complimentary Wi-FI for passengers. United Airlines is looking into improving their service to do just that for their future flights.
As reported by SFGate, United Airlines president Scott Kirby announced during last week’s earnings call that the airline spent last year working on this aspect. In particular, they were upgrading their software and hardware for inflight internet service. The goal is to make WiFi service free on their flights as soon as possible.
Back in March, Kirby said during a TravelSkills interview that the “number one complaint from our frequent travelers” related to poor Wi-Fi service. Therefore, upgrading that aspect of the onboard travel experience is a priority. However, Kirby didn’t announce any sort of timeline for when United will no longer charge passengers for their Wi-Fi access.
United Airlines currently has WiFi internet available to passengers, although it carries a price. These prices vary based on the internet service provider. United Airlines uses four different internet providers with Gogo, Thales, Panasonic, and ViaSat.
SFGate’s report indicates costs could be as low as $11 or as high as $49 depending on the flight. In addition, they state that frequent flier miles can be used as a payment option for the services. That said, giving customers a free Wi-Fi experience can give United a major selling point for future business.
There’s still the ongoing process of updating to newer equipment to give better service. Many jets were operating with older internet service equipment that generally provides slower, spottier connections that are only available over 10,000 feet. Now jets are being updated with newer capacities for browsing faster and more reliably as well as “from gate to gate.” Still, it will take time for these upgrades to be performed.
Of the major airlines operating in the United States, JetBlue states they are the “only airline with free high-speed wi-fi at every seat.” The airline’s official website indicates they use Fly-Fi provided by Amazon to make this incredible online experience possible. The service is said to be possible over the contiguous U.S. with expansion coming for other JetBlue flight routes.