As the first airline to sign for the SpaceX Starlink inflight WiFi solution, JSX also expects to be the first airline to activate the service. Speaking at the Future Travel Experience conference in Las Vegas this week, CEO Alex Wilcox unveiled a few additional details about plans for the service.
Basically the only complaint passengers have about JSX is no WiFi. – CEO Alex Wilcox
A version of this story was made available in advance to PaxEx.Aero Premium Subscribers
JSX currently has two aircraft flying with the Starlink hardware on board. The systems are online for testing, but not available yet to passengers. At least one of the fitted aircraft does not appear to be flying regular scheduled service yet.
Wilcox expects that the system will come online for passengers in October. The carrier will also unveil a special livery to celebrate the project in November.
With just a couple dozen planes active, and an install time of two or three days each, JSX anticipates the full fleet will be connected before the end of the year.
Free for all
Historically, Wilcox has been hesitant to commit to free WiFi for all passengers, recognizing that the cost could be a burden. In 2019 the airline announced plans to fit its fleet with the SmartSky terrestrial solution. At that time he indicated JSX would “Put it out there for free” to start but he had concerns that the service might be too good.
“It is so damn fast and so good that I’m a little concerned that we might have to meter usage” because the consumption could increase the company’s operating costs. Wilcox continued, “If it costs me $10 per passenger to deliver that streaming content that’s $5mm off the bottom line; I can’t afford to do that.”
That apprehension is now gone, or at least sufficiently allayed. The service will be complimentary on board.
The decision to simply bundle the service in the fare was driven by a few factors. Wilcox explained the decision to PaxEx.Aero:
One thing I’ve noticed talking to passengers since 2019 is that basically the only complaint passengers have about JSX is no WiFi. We’re already ahead of everyone else in customer satisfactions, and now I’m going to be that much further ahead. Ultimately people will pay for it in the total pricing package, but we can bundle it into the fare.
Helping the company on that front is the fact that JSX almost never competes directly on price anyways. Adding a couple dollars to the fare to make sure the inflight WiFi costs are covered should not be a problem in that context.
A solid backup option
Happy customers is one obvious upside of delivering inflight connectivity for travelers. But converting that happiness to a dollar amount to justify the system costs often proves challenging. For JSX the Starlink solution can deliver value outside of passenger connectivity.
The carrier sees each aircraft as a flying hotspot, with up to 200 Mbit/sec to the aircraft available gate-to-gate. And, on the off chance that the ground station loses its internet service, the company believes it can run the check-in and dispatch processes using the Starlink connection.
That’s an incredibly rare usage scenario, but shows that the company is looking beyond the basics as it brings connectivity online. And it has already happened. The company was able to dispatch a plane at Burbank recently using the on-board WiFi when other connectivity at the airport was offline.
More news from Future Travel Experience Global 2022
- Seeing stars: JSX’s WiFi deployment plan
- India proves critical for Air Canada, Emirates truce
- Allegiant plans more Extra on 737 MAX fleet
- JSX details Starlink aircraft activation plans
- Is Allegiant ready to add inflight WiFi?
- Alaska Airlines going digital to slash bag check-in time
- Allegiant flips its digital marketing focus
- Seeking a connected aircraft timeline
- Air Europa adding NFTicket platform
- Could Allegiant deliver an interline win?
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