Bellwether Hawaiian Airlines will arrive at the WiFi party later than every other major airline. But when it finally goes online and adds WiFi starting next year, there’s much good news. Not only will it be the first of its kind regarding technology, but it will be both fast, and free. Regarding just how fast, Hawaiian said it’ll be “very impressive.” That courtesy of a surprise partnership with Elon Musk’s Space X.
Our take is that we have sorely missed WiFi on Hawaiian Airlines flights. We regularly fly on other airlines to and from Hawaii, including Alaska, and while we aren’t obsessed with staying connected, there are just times when we need to complete something before heading off. We are hopeful this will offer all of us a great guest experience. What about you?
Hawaiian Airlines WiFi announcement.
The carrier will use Elon Musk SpaceX’s Starlink satellites for the new wifi network offering. The airline will be the first to use the service, which is based on a network of 2,000 earth-orbiting Starlink service satellites. Starink says, “Using advanced satellites in a low orbit, Starlink enables video calls, online gaming, streaming, and other high data rate activities that historically have not been possible with satellite internet. Users can expect to see download speeds between 100 Mb/s and 200 Mb/s and latency as low as 20ms in most locations.”
See a complete summary of WiFi on flights to Hawaii.
Hawaiian’s plan is for free wi-fi that will be very fast. It will be installed on its fleet of 42 Airbus A330 and A321neos. It will also be found onboard its upcoming Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet due to start arriving next year. It’s available to all guests, including the economy main cabin.
The fact that this service will be both fast and free will likely have a beneficial impact for passengers aboard all other airlines, especially those who plan to continue to charge for WiFi. The cost passengers pay has fast been dropping, and that has only gotten better since behemoth Southwest Hawaii flights added WiFi for a flat $8 fee.
Previously the company has had in flight entertainment, which was available on mobile devices such as phones and tablets.
“Revolutionary laser mesh network.”
The Starlink tests for the new high standards, low-latency WiFi offering have not yet started. Hawaiian spokesperson Avi Mannis said, there remain “certification issues that need to be worked through before we’re ready to operate the product. But we’re confident that there’s a path forward for that.” The company appears to be in just the initial stages of implementation at this time.
The new service uses a “revolutionary laser mesh network,” which provides greater reliability. Streaming content, games and real-time air to ground collaboration will all be supported in addition to browsing and messaging. The airline said that “connecting to the internet will be seamless when guests walk on board, without registration pages or payment portals.”
Only short interisland flights aren’t included at this time.
It is worth noting that the airline’s interisland fleet will be the only select aircraft that won’t be WiFi-equipped at this time. While that could come later, it isn’t clear that it will. Those flights have an average duration of just thirty minutes between islands.
Starlink’s sales VP Jonathan Hofeller said, “Hawaiian Airlines is ensuring its passengers will experience high-speed internet the way we expect it in the 21st century, making hassles like downloading movies before takeoff a relic of the past.”
We expect to hear more by tomorrow from company CEO Peter Ingram, when Hawaiian has a quarter report scheduled to be released. Today Ingram said, “When we launch with Starlink we will have the best connectivity experience available in the air. We waited until technology caught up with our high standards for guest experience, but it will be worth the wait.”