WestJet revealed last Friday it will soon install Wi-Fi on its flights in the near future, replacing its current seat back TV setup with Panasonic’s inflight entertainment system, set to feature a combination of free and paid content including live TV, movies, and more.
What does this mean for customers? You’ll soon be able to have access to Wi-Fi on your smartphone, tablet or computer to stream entertainment wirelessly from a server on board each WestJet Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft. Those without a device will be offered one to use, presumably for a fee.
It is presumed the Panasonic eXW system will be used, which supports iOS devices, Mac and Windows machines, along with various web browsers:
Panasonic Avionics’ wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) system, eXW, helps an airline promote their unique brand, drive passenger loyalty and revenue generation by delivering the X Series experience right to passengers’ personal electronic devices. With eXW, passengers enjoy on-board movies, music, news, and in-cabin services through a robust, airline-branded portal. It also provides an advanced eCommerce business platform that helps generate revenue through high value advertising, online shopping, and other real-time services. It supports Windows, Mac OS, and iOS devices, as well as browsers including Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, and Firefox.
Marshall Wilmot, WestJet Vice-President, Product and Distribution, said “We know that roughly 75 per cent of our guests are bringing their own devices on board today,” and “They tell us they want the opportunity to connect to check their email, put the finishing touches on a presentation or keep in touch with family and friends.
WestJet will also integrate USB/110 volt power outlets built into new slimmers seats to keep user devices charged. The company will test the new Panasonic system on one aircraft in 2014, then install it on the rest of the fleet in the “next several years”.
The Panasonic satellite system covers 99.6% of all global airline routes and last December the company announced it had upgraded its satellite broadband network in anticipation of high demand for its services in 2014. Panasonic says by the end of this year, over 600 aircraft will be using their broadband network around the globe, powered by the network’s 22 satellite beams.
This is great news for those looking for Wi-Fi access on flights to use on their own devices. The downside? No longer being able to zone out as you’ll have to spend your time holding up your iPhone or iPad. And listening to notification sounds from hundreds of devices on board (iMessage, WhatsApp, new mail notifications, and more).
Are you excited to use Wi-Fi on your future WestJet flights?