NEW YORK — The free perks keep coming for airline passengers.
JetBlue announced all domestic flights will have free WiFi.
The New York City-based airline starting offering free gate-to-gate internet at the end of 2013 on one aircraft, and has now expanded the service to its entire U.S. continental fleet — 227 planes.
“It’s a really good time for travelers,” said Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com. “Airlines are really starting to compete on product.”
JetBlue claims it is the first U.S. airline to offer free internet during an entire flight on every airplane. American Airlines offers WiFi on almost all its domestic flights, but customers must purchase a daily or monthly pass. A daily pass costs $16. Delta charges the same amount for a daily WiFi pass. Southwest charges $8 a day per device for internet access.
JetBlue uses Fly-Fi to provide internet access.
“We have designed a way to offer the same amount of bandwidth to every device,” said Jamie Perry, JetBlue’s vice president of marketing.
He said a flight from Boston to San Francisco had 190 devices connected at one time. “They could still stream video smoothly.”
Last week, Alaska Airlines, which recently acquired Virgin America, announced passengers on WiFi-enabled flights can use iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger during a flight at no cost.
It’s been a good couple of years for airline industry profits thanks to consolidation and low fuel prices. As a result, airlines have been moving away from charging for onboard amenities like entertainment and food.
Klee said airlines have been working to figure out what amenities are worth charging for.
For instance, Delta made all its inflight entertainment free last summer and American Airlines made a similar announcement two months later.
Last year, Delta did a test on whether it would bring back free meals on some flights.
“Bags have turned into a profit center, there is no pressure to give those away for free,” said Klee. “But meals, they weren’t making a ton of money for them, so why not give a little more free if you aren’t making a lot on them anyway?”