Hawaiian Airlines announces free Wi-Fi courtesy Elon Musk's Starlink
Hawaiian Airlines just announced it will be the first major airline to provide Starlink high-speed satellite broadband Wi-Fi internet to passengers. The service will be free to all customers flying on select transpacific flights beginning next year, with the installation implemented gradually.
Hawaiian said the service will be offered on its Airbus A330 and A321 planes and its incoming, new Boeing 787-9s, but is not currently planned for its Boeing 717s used for inter-island flights.
"We will have the best connectivity experience available in the air," said Peter Ingram, Hawaiian Airlines president and CEO, in the airline's announcement. "Our guests can look forward to fast, seamless and free Wi-Fi," with the ability to stream video content.
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Starlink's Commercial Sales President Jonathan Hofeller said in a statement, "With Starlink, the inflight experience is greatly simplified so that once passengers step on board the plane the internet works seamlessly throughout their flight" with "the world's best inflight internet connectivity."
Passengers will be able to use the Starlink service without needing to register or provide payment information.
According to Starlink's website, users of the service will be able to have download speeds of between 100 Mbps to 200 Mbps, with very low latency (20ms). That means you'll be able to stream glitch-free movies, play online games with friends, and even hold full Zoom meetings on your Hawaiian flights. Starlink is able to provide this connectivity even over the middle of the Pacific Ocean by using the SpaceX network of low-orbit satellites.
In terms of installation timing for the aircraft, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the "schedule driver there is regulatory approval."
Hawaiian Airlines' offer of free Wi-Fi is part of a larger trend of airlines offering discounted and free inflight Wi-Fi. JetBlue currently offers free Wi-Fi fleetwide, Delta provides Wi-Fi at $5 per flight (with promises for future free service), while Alaska, Southwest and United all offer Wi-Fi access for $8 on domestic flights. None of these airlines currently have any broadband access products announced, although The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Delta has "conducted exploratory tests" of Starlink's technology. Charter jet airline JSX has also announced a Wi-Fi deal with Starlink, with service targeted to begin late this year.
It will still be some time before passengers will be able to use high-speed broadband Wi-Fi aboard Hawaiian or any other flights. However, expect this new standard for speed and affordability to become widespread in the airline industry.