Photo: © Alaska Air

MIAMI — Seattle based Alaska Airlines has chosen Gogo’s next generation 2Ku satellite Wi-Fi for its fleet. According to Alaska, Gogo 2Ku will be found on its entire fleet of Boeing aircraft and inherited Virgin America aircraft.

With 20 times more bandwidth than the airline’s current product, Gogo 2Ku will enable customers to stream shows and have more devices connected at once. 2Ku will also provide wifi on routes that currently lack Wi-Fi like Hawaii, Mexico, and Costa Rica.

Taking Gogo’s Latest 2Ku Wi-Fi For a Spin

Another key advantage with Gogo 2Ku is that customers will no longer need to wait until their aircraft reaches 10,000 feet to connect to Wi-Fi. This will give customers more time to surf the web and will give Alaska more time to charge customers for the service.

“We conducted an extensive review to find a satellite Wi-Fi solution that will allow us to give our guests full coverage across our route map, including in the state of Alaska and on flights to Hawaii,” said Andrew Harrison, chief commercial officer for Alaska Airlines. “Our guests will soon be able to connect in the air just as they do out and about on the ground. This makes traveling more relaxing as well as productive – whether you’re scrolling through Facebook, checking email, or watching what’s trending on YouTube.”

While the carrier has yet to announce pricing options for 2Ku Wi-Fi, the company says prices will be lower than their current ATG service.

Alaska Airlines + Virgin America = More to Love

“We are excited to partner with Alaska to bring their guests a new onboard connectivity experience with 2Ku,” said Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO. “2Ku is the leading inflight internet solution on the market today in terms of bandwidth delivered to each passenger device, coverage and reliability. We have market-leading satellite capacity with the ability to add more. We continue to innovate and improve the technology to make sure 2Ku will keep Alaska ahead of the technology curve for the foreseeable future.”

Alaska will begin installing 2Ku in the first half of 2018 on their Boeing 737 fleet. Alaska expects 40-50 aircraft will have 2Ku installed by the end of 2018. At present time, 2Ku takes roughly two days to install onto the planes. This is much faster than previous generation Wi-Fi systems that were counted in weeks instead of days. Alaska expects their entire mainline fleet will be outfitted with Gogo 2Ku by early 2020. Alaska’s regional fleet will not receive 2Ku upgrades and will instead continue to offer Gogo’s slower ATG4.

The carrier also announced that a key feature found on their flights, free chat and movies, can now be found on all Virgin America flights.

With free chat, customers can send messages on iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp from the air. With today’s announcement, all entertainment options found on Virgin’s RED IFE system is now free.

Virgin America’s RED IFE system.

“Free Chat and free movies are extremely popular on Alaska Airlines flights and we’re happy to extend these features to our guests flying with Virgin America,” Harrison said. “We continue to evaluate and evolve the onboard experience to deliver an exceptional and consistent guest experience at a great value.”