Alaska Airlines and Virgin America to offer chat and Wifi

Alaska Airlines is hoping to make their flights more enjoyable by upgrading their WiFi on flights and at gates. The company has selected Gogo satellite-based inflight WiFi across their Boeing and Airbus fleet.

According to Alaska, the broadband 2Ku service has 20 times more bandwidth than their previous service – and will allow passengers to stream channels like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go while on a flight. The new service will also allow passengers to use WiFi on routes that were previously unavailable with Alaska – including Hawaii, Mexico, and Costa Rica.

Because the new WiFi service will be done via satellite, passengers will no longer have to wait until the plane reaches 10,000 feet to get online. However, the WiFi service will not be free, and Alaska Airlines has not yet revealed the price structure for the new service.

“We conducted an extensive review to find a satellite Wi-Fi solution that will allow us to give our guests full coverage across our route map, including in the state of Alaska and on flights to Hawaii,” said Andrew Harrison, chief commercial officer for Alaska Airlines. “Our guests will soon be able to connect in the air just as they do out and about on the ground. This makes traveling more relaxing as well as productive – whether you’re scrolling through Facebook, checking email, or watching what’s trending on YouTube.”

Alaska Airlines also announced that passengers on flights operated by Virgin America now have access to Free Chat and free movies – two benefits already available to guests flying on Alaska. This includes iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger.

All entertainment on Virgin America’s RED in-flight entertainment system is now free as well.

“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.”

The Gogo 2K Wifi service will be installed on Alaska’s Boeing 737 aircraft beginning in the first half of 2018, and 40 to 50 planes are expected to be completed by the end of the 2018. The rest of Alaska and Virgin America’s planes are expected to be completely equipped by 2020.