Road warrior to JetBlue: Stop teasing us with “lame” Wi-Fi

It was bound to happen – a road warrior and blogger tries out JetBlue’s free but limited in-flight email and messaging service, writes about its limitations, and then tells the carrier plainly to offer a proper Wi-Fi service.

JetBlue tails.jpg

In a “memo to JetBlue”, The VAR Guy says: “Um, there’s only one thing worse than no WiFi service… it’s free service where you don’t really have full access to the Web. And in this case, JetBlue’s decision to offer such a limited menu of Internet content was painfully lame.”

Readers of Runway Girl know that I’m a huge fan of JetBlue (I LOVE IT). The JFK-based carrier changed the entire US in-flight entertainment landscape with its live television offering, care of now-subsidiary LiveTV.

But as hard as it is for me to say this, I think The VAR Guy is dead-on. JetBlue needs to step up its Wi-Fi offering ASAP if it wants to remain competitive with its peers – AirTran Airways, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines/Northwest Airlines and Virgin America, which are all offering Aircell’s Gogo broadband service.

You can add Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines to the list when Row 44 receives permanent authority from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for its Ku-band-based connectivity service, of which both carriers are currently trialling. Yes, that authority has been a long time in coming and if it doesn’t come soon, I’ll have to go back to trolling the FCC web-site for updates on my Friday nights. Oh dear God, nooooooo!

But back to JetBlue. As reported here previously, the low-cost carrier intends to offer passengers a broadband-like experience via LiveTV’s Oasis connectivity product in the near-term.

Oasis will combine the low-data rate capability of LiveTV’s Kiteline service (named thusly because it offers a thin pipe from the aircraft to the ground) with LiveTV’s ability to upload large amounts of cached content to onboard servers via its wireless aircraft data link (WADL). It’s clever but will it be enough?

Passengers’ appetites for high-speed Internet is clearly growing – thanks to Aircell. Will Oasis satiate The VAR Guy?

Key quote:

“The VAR Guy will gladly pay $9(US) for in-flight WiFi that offers complete Internet access. In the meantime, please stop teasing your loyal customers with such a limited, useless service. Admittedly, the JetBlue in-flight WiFi service is in beta. Let’s hope the final, production system is vastly different.”

Meanwhile, LiveTV is looking past the here and now and into the future with a possible Ka-band-based product. Will those studies need to be stepped up? So many questions…

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11 Responses to Road warrior to JetBlue: Stop teasing us with “lame” Wi-Fi

  1. Wandering Aramean May 28, 2009 at 5:52 pm #

    The Kiteline product has been hampered from the get-go since it basically is so limited that it isn’t worth bothering with in most cases. It was never a legitimate offering.

    I’m only really surprised to hear that the guy is willing to pay $9/flight for internet access in general. The idea of paying such an extortionate rate for network access for just a few hours is really amazing to me. Are people really that desperate to be online? I can see it being useful on rare occasions or potentially using it for a lower price. But at the current high prices it is hard to justify it, even at the gogo service level. And there’s no way that jetBlue is going to justify charging for it unless they make some MAJOR changes.

  2. Mary Kirby May 28, 2009 at 8:22 pm #

    Hello Wandering,
    I gotta admit, I’m among the folks willing to pay $9 (or even more) for in-flight Internet. The service lets me clear my work slate in advance of a conference, for example, and allows me to file real-time copy in real time. But I think you’re right about JB – major changes are required for it to keep in step.

  3. Ludwig von Hapsburg XII "Stinky" May 29, 2009 at 10:51 am #

    Oh, I like him. Seriously, fella, have you ever experienced air travel in these United States?

    “The idea of paying…for just a few hours is really amazing to me.” Really? You must be the one guy who is satisfied with the lavish inflight entertainment, the culinary orgy of meal services, the flight attendants catering to your every need.”

    Seriously, Bro. If its between counting the hair lice on the guy in front of me or shelling out a whopping $15 (or whatever) to surf and get some work done (which my company reimburses back to me), its a no brainer.

    My advice to you is to get back in your smoking Delorean time machine, and leave Goober, Opie, Andy & Aunt Bea and come back to the 21st Century. We have color TV and everything.


  4. michael j baker May 29, 2009 at 6:05 pm #

    i thought the half wit hapsburgs was trying to salvage a german blood so to regain whatever titles there is possible regain…ah the fall from retardedom …sounds at least like a really bad ben stiller

  5. Mary Kirby May 30, 2009 at 9:37 am #

    Look at you guys playing so nicely :) Love it!

  6. Ludwig von Hapsburg XII "Stinky" May 30, 2009 at 2:28 pm #

    Something tells me Michael J. didn’t place well in his phonics or history curriculum in grade school.

    Aside from my “color TV” comment, I entreat you to option the grammar/spell check functions. They are certain to make you appear smarter anyways.

    Just the same, hope the weather is nice in Calcutta today.

    BTW-The Hapsburgs are from Austria, you doofus. Feel free to call me…


  7. Sarah June 5, 2009 at 12:40 am #

    I’m living close to the Miss. State Univerisity. It’s close to the airports of Columbus, MS, also Tupelo, MS and Tuscloosa, AL. I search almost all ticket websites but the prices are much to high.
    Sure I know the way to buy tickets from Jackson, MS or Birmingham or Memphis. However these cities are a little far away and the gas would cost a lot if I drive there.
    When I was in northwest, it was easy to find cheap tickets from internet, even small airports. thanks….

  8. Mike December 17, 2009 at 12:39 pm #

    I’m not from Austria or Calcutta, but it would be cool to surf the internet on the plane in spite of my weakness in phonics and lamentable underexposure to sound history. However, if you buy two beers in the airport, you’ve blown your $15 and your budget, so you’re left with no means to get internet access and a rueful regret with respect to the phonics thing. So there you are! Q.E.D.

  9. Pink Netbook September 22, 2010 at 10:16 pm #

    I can’t really blame the Eagles for starting Vick. The O-line has been horrible at best. Kolb has nowhere near the mobility of Vick. Guess it makes sense. Just weird how it played out.

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