Wi-Fi in the Sky

In a clever move that should generate some fairly positive buzz for JetBlue, the airline has made it possible for its passengers to check their Gmail, Hotmail, AOL and Windows Live Mail accounts while flying off to their chosen destination.

The airline had already dipped its toes into this particular pond- back in December 2007, they introduced Wi-Fi service accessible only to Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Messenger and Blackberry users. So this move constitutes JetBlue wading in even further.

They’re also making it possible for passengers to browse and shop on Amazon.com. It’s too bad that the company can’t find a way to make purchases appear instantaneously on the plane so that passengers can enjoy those books when they encounter any delays.

On the one hand, this expansion of service is a boon to passengers. Catching up on e-mail should help make lengthy flights fly by faster, though this does mean that airplanes will become the latest extension of the office. (At this rate, the boss will likely be able to reach you everywhere and at every single moment of the day. No rest for the weary!)

But one has to wonder- why has this been limited just to e-mail and Amazon.com? Why have social media sites like Twitter and Facebook been excluded? And why not open this up to websites other than Amazon.com? How close are we to being able to surf the web on the way to surf the waves?


11 comments so far

  1. Christina A on


    First off,I love your blog. You obviously put some research and thought into your topics. And I appreciate you linking your sources. It’s very useful.

    As to your latest posting, even before finishing I was wondering the same thing. Why is Jetblue limiting what sites you can access? Makes you wonder, what’s in it for them?

    I look forward to further posts.

  2. Shoppeuse on

    As a devoted Amazon.com shopper (all my laundry detergent, times, tools, etc, as well as books), this is good news for me, though I don’t approve of it in principle. People shouldn’t be Wi-Fi ing on airplanes anyway — is no place silent and safe from computers and thumbs?

  3. abbymartin on

    Christina A

    Thank you for the kind words! Much appreciated.

    I suspect there must be some kind of behind the scenes partnerships going on- because why offer only one website? Doesn’t make sense.

    Have to praise JetBlue for being so tech-savvy though. They, like Zappos, have a Twitter presence.


  4. thatsroger on

    I assume they are limiting the sites because they are making some money out of it. I predict that eventually wi-fi on airplanes will be the norm and it will be impossible for them to limit the sites, and they will open it up to the entire web, but when?! But it sounds like it’s a free service? It drives me crazy that Second Cup and Starbucks charge about $7/h to get wi-fi.

  5. Bonnie on

    I’d like to see the day Air Canada become web-savvy.

    But they’d probably charge for it.

  6. abbymartin on

    I think you’re right. I suspect that they can offer free service because they are compensating for a.) raised ticket prices due to the massive uptick in the cost of fuel and b.)they likely got a whole lot of $$$ from somebody for offering their services.

    Starbucks overcharges for coffee (though it is so good, damn them) so it is no surprise that they overcharge for wi-fi.

    You can fix these things when you are President!

  7. bibliothecaire on

    Starbucks is offering “free” wifi now — quotation marks because it requires you to buy a card & use it at least 1x/mo: http://www.starbucks.com/retail/wireless.asp.

    As long as they keep cellphones off of airplanes, I don’t care what people do with their thumbs (on their electronic devices).

  8. abbymartin on


    Thanks for your comment- I always look forward to your insights.

    Agreed- I’d rather listen to people type than shout into their cells.

    Could they offer the rest of us free noise-cancelling headphones?

  9. Michael Bekiaris on

    On my recent flight to the States I remember them very adamantly saying that there was to be no use of transmitting devices during flight. Does this fly in the face of that? Why is JetBlue special?

  10. abbymartin on

    that’s an excellent point- don’t they usually tell us that we can not use any portable devices during take off and landing as well? I don’t have an immediate answer for that. Let me research and get back to you so I can give you a proper answer. (Or you can ask JetBlue on twitter if you are really curious and I can’t back to you fast enough.)

  11. thatsroger on

    The Starbucks “free” wifi thing seemed too good to be true so I looked into it, of course it’s only in the US. I will be speechless the day they would give free wifi in Canada.

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