Alaska’s Adding Speedy Wi-Fi to All Airbus and Boeing Planes
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Want high-speed satellite Wi-Fi when flying Alaska Airlines? Come 2020, you’ll be guaranteed to have it. On Tuesday, the carrier shared plans to equip its entire fleet with Gogo’s much-improved 2Ku satellite Wi-Fi, which the carrier quotes as offering “20 times more bandwidth than Gogo’s air-to-ground (ATG) product.” So if you’re used to using the Gogo internet available on most planes today, this new variety will represent a huge step up.
Just how fast is 2Ku? Well, I had an opportunity to put it to the test on a Gogo test flight last year, and it worked well enough to accomplish just about any task I’d expect to on the ground, including streaming HD video. My “Delta Silent Disco” flight was also 2Ku equipped, which was fairly speedy despite the number of passengers sharing pictures and video on social media. The Wi-Fi even worked as we taxied for takeoff, which simply isn’t possible with ATG, which uses antennas mounted on the plane’s belly to communicate with towers on the ground — 2Ku, by comparison, uses satellite antennas on the top of the plane, so theoretically an aircraft can maintain its connection from gate to gate.
Currently, Alaska’s 737s and Embraer 175s offer Gogo’s older (sluggish) Wi-Fi, which, due to its design, only works when flying over North America, including the corridor to and from Alaska’s namesake state. 2Ku, meanwhile, covers all of the carrier’s routes, making it possible to offer Wi-Fi service on flights to Hawaii, Mexico and beyond.
So what does this mean for Virgin America’s ViaSat experiment? While I’m a big fan of ViaSat Wi-Fi — which successfully powers JetBlue’s entire fleet, for example — unfortunately that provider’s product just won’t work for Alaska Airlines, since service isn’t available on all of the carrier’s routes, including those to and from the state of Alaska. As a result, Virgin’s A320s will be getting Gogo’s solution, instead. Alaska regional jets will continue to offer older ATG service.
While pricing hasn’t been announced — and varies by flight — Delta currently charges $16 for a prepaid Gogo day pass with 24 hours of access, so I imagine Alaska’s version shouldn’t end up costing an arm and a leg. As for when to expect 2Ku service to launch, Alaska will begin installing satellite Wi-Fi on its 737s early next year, with at least 40 planes expected to go online by the end of 2018. All mainline aircraft will offer 2Ku by early 2020.
Have you tried Gogo’s 2Ku Wi-Fi?
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees