WestJet is Finally Going to Launch Inflight Wifi This Year – to One Plane on Its Fleet

WestJet announced that it has signed a multi-year agreement with Panasonic Avionics Corporation to provide the Calgary-based airline with a new inflight entertainment system with the ability to feature wireless satellite internet connectivity, live streaming television, and on-demand movies and magazines.

According to WestJet, passengers will finally be able to connect their personal devices to wifi inflight to surf the internet or stream packaged content.

“We are very excited to take the next step in the evolution of our inflight entertainment system,” said Marshall Wilmot, WestJet Vice-President, Product and Distribution. “We were proud to be the first Canadian airline to offer live television on board our aircraft beginning in 2004, and today we are announcing a completely new system designed to offer WestJet guests a broader selection of entertainment options than ever before.”

Pricing for airtime has not yet been revealed. WestJet says it will als installed USB power outlets in seats for device charging purposes.

“We know that roughly 75 per cent of our guests are bringing their own devices on board today,” continued Wilmot. “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. Our continually improving schedule and network, now combined with wireless connectivity, along with our WestJet Rewards program and our Plus package with more space to work and additional amenities is part of our ongoing effort to enhance our value proposition for business travellers.”

However, the rollout is expected to be very gradual: while there are currently 275 airlines around the world using a Panasonic inflight entertainment system, the company will install the system on just one WestJet Boeing Next Generation aircraft before the end of 2014, at which time the airline will perform tests to fine-tune the system. The system will not affect the entire WestJet fleet for “several years.”