Alaska Airlines Announces Gogo 2Ku Satelite Wi-Fi Fleet-Wide & Extends Free Chat & Movies To Virgin America

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Alaska Airlines has confirmed that it has selected Gogo to provide its “next generation” in-flight wi-fi service across all of its aircraft (Boeing and Airbus) and has provided more details of what customers can expect.

Alaska Airlines’ New Wi-Fi System

The Gogo 2Ku service is satellite-based and, according to Alaska, provides “the significantly faster connection speed needed to stream content from services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO GO while in the air”.

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Alaska’s announcement goes on to read….

The satellite-based service 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.

An added bonus of Alaska’s new wi-fi system is that it will offer service “from gate to gate” meaning that passengers won’t have to wait for the “bong” when the aircraft reaches 10,000 feet before they connect.

The airline says that it expects the new wi-fi offering to provide travelers “with speeds similar to the wireless carriers on the ground”.

When Can We Expect The New Wi-F?

Per Alaska Airlines:

The Gogo 2Ku service will be installed on Alaska’s Boeing 737 aircraft beginning in the first half of 2018, with 40 to 50 planes expected to be completed by the end of the year. The remainder of Alaska and Virgin America’s mainline fleet will be fully satellite Wi-Fi equipped by early 2020.

Regional jets operated by Horizon Air and SkyWest, which serve shorter flights, will continue to offer Gogo’s ATG4 internet service (including Free Chat) along with free movies and TV.

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Wi-Fi Pricing

Alaska hasn’t finalized its pricing for the new wi-fi service but the airline has said that it hopes to be able to announce news on this front “in the near future”.

What we have been told is that we can expect prices to be lower than they are today for air-to-ground service and that there will be options to buy the new service in a variety of ways (hourly, daily etc…)

Free Chat & Movies On Virgin America

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Alongside its wi-fi announcement Alaska Airlines has also confirmed that customers flying on Virgin America aircraft now have access to “Free Chat” and free movies just like their compatriots flying on Alaska Airlines aircraft.

“Free Chat” is the name Alaska gives to its feature that allows flyers to use iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger for free while in flight.

The airline has confirmed that all entertainment offered through Virgin America’s RED in-flight entertainment system is now free and this includes all TV as well as the latest movie releases, classic movies and independent releases.

a close-up of a televisionImage courtesy Virgin America

This now aligns Virgin America’s offering with that of Alaska Airlines which has been offering free entertainment since March this year.

Bottom Line

Alaska Airline keeps giving travelers more and more reasons to like it.

This is already the last of the major US airlines to offer a loyalty program where a mile flown earns a redeemable mile in your account and it appears to be the last major US airline to actually care about its customers – I have no doubt that the 2Ku wi-fi pricing will be fair and that there won’t be an attempt to use the new offering to gouge customers.

Yes the airline is far from perfect (it has sprung devaluations on us in the past) but management genuinely appears to realise that not blindly following Delta, United and American is a unique selling point…and one that a lot of people like.

Free chat, free movies and high speed wi-fi are not in any way unique to Alaska Airlines but, because of how the airline presents itself and reacts to customers, it feels more of a genuine enhancement rather than an attempt to give a little back after taking away so much….as is the case with the big 3 legacy carriers.

Featured image courtesy of InSapphoWeTrust via Flickr


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