Just as airline ancillary revenue was reaching significant proportions, more than 10% of total earnings for a number of US carriers, and someone goes and throws a spanner in the works.
Wifi, which was hotting up to be the next weapon in the airline’s armoury to lure business customers, is to be offered free by JetBlue with aircraft being equipped with the service from the beginning of 2013.
Details of the plan, which first emerged here and have been confirmed by the airline, reveals JetBlue will use ViaSat for its wifi following a series of tests whichÂ demonstrated the technology was faster than other providers.
In addition, the service will be free until it is available on 30 aircraft and after that email and browsing will remain free while streaming of films will carry a price.
JetBlue views the high-speed inflight service as a competitive advantage and supports this with findings of a recent FlightView study showing less than a third of passengers are satisfied with onboard wifi services.
Just as JetBlue confirmed the plans, in came a press release from GuestLogix about monetising inflight entertainment and a partnership to integrate its payment technology with Panasonic’s seatback IFE system.
What happens next is anyone’s guess – another race to the bottom perhaps combined with an emotional outburst similar to that provoked by the lack of free wifi in hotels (Accor has just announced free wifi across Asia Pacific).
It will be interesting to see if revenue from wifi services is noted as having a significant impact on ancillary earnings going forward.