JetBlue Airways launched its in flight high-speed internet product on Wednesday (December 11) in New York. The broadband internet service called "Fly-fi" is the first airline internet services using Ka-band satellite connectivity, and promises to deliver real broadband speeds that travelers are used to at home.
During Fly-fi's inaugural flight that took off from New York's JFK International Airport, JetBlue's Senior Vice President, Marty St. George said: "Our goal is to make sure that on a seat by seat basis, you are going to get more capacity on your seat than the ground based systems have for their entire airplanes. So it's going to be lightening fast. It's like sitting in your living room."
Also on board the flight were a handful of journalist and technology experts, who were eager to test the speed limits of the service.
Among them was content blogger Anthony Quintano, who said that he was impressed by Fly-fi.
"There is no stuttering, there is no lag. It's pretty good. And the fact that I have TweetDeck open and YouTube at the same time, that's impressive," he told Reuters.
During Fly-fi's beta-period that will run through June 2014, JetBlue will offer the basic service called "Simply Surf" for free. Simply Surf will be fast enough for basic web surfing, but for activities that require more bandwidth such as live video streaming and movie downloads, it offers "Fly-fi Plus."
Fly-fi plus will cost travelers nine dollars per hour, which is quite costly said Zach Honig of Engaget.com.
"If you're flying coast to coast, JFK to California, that's six hours at nine dollars an hour. It's quite expensive. For the free service which works pretty well with the exception of streaming it's a great offering, definitely," he said.
Jonathan Spira of Frequent Business Traveler Magazine also cautioned that high-speed internet connectivity on board flights could mean fewer places of refuge for some.
"Once the cat is out of the bag, we don't have an excuse: 'Oh, I will be on the plane for six hours, you can't reach me.' It used to be a very safe refuge, and it's slowly losing that ability. It's no longer a refuge it's just another place to work," he said.
JetBlue says that three aircraft are Fly-fi ready at the moment. It is being rapidly installed across its fleet and the airliner expects all of its aircraft to be upgraded by 2015.