My wife and I were flying back from Fort Lauderdale over the weekend, just in time for Alaska Airlines to announce that passengers will now pay an $8 flat rate for satellite wifi service (on sat-fi equipped aircraft). If you have an Alaska Airlines Visa, your 20% in-flight discount will apply to the purchase price, meaning gate-to-gate wifi on any Alaska flight will cost just $6.40.
Alaska Airlines has been retrofitting its aircraft away from the old ground-based GoGo to new high-speed wifi that’s offered in partnership with Intelsat. The press-release claims that it loads 50% faster than the ground-based wifi and that connection speeds are 20 times faster than the previous GoGo system. I used it all the way back from Fort Lauderdale and found it to be much faster…although I can’t quite believe 20x. It is among the best I’ve experienced domestically.
Alaska also claims that streaming is possible with the new, faster service. Is it possible? Yes. Is it always pleasant? No. I found that there were stops and starts trying to stream both Netflix and HBO Max. One great change is that you can connect from boarding, instead of having to wait until you get above a given elevation, like the old ground service, or from door close, like the initial satellite service.
Providing better service at a lower price is commendable. This is a great change for Alaska and one that I hope becomes standard across other carriers. Paying $15-30 per flight for mediocre wifi is frustrating and happens a lot domestically. I do quite a bit of work on planes (like this post) and I’ve had a monthly wifi plan for years. With a break-even rate of 8ish flights/month, I may have to reconsider now that the $6.40 flat-rate is taking effect.