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WiFi coming to WestJet

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – WestJet has signed a multi-year agreement with Panasonic Avionics Corporation to provide the airline with a new in-flight entertainment system.

WiFi, live-streaming television, on-demand movies and magazines will all be available for guests, who can use their own personal electronic device (PED) or laptop to receive live and stored content streamed wirelessly from a server on board each WestJet Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft.

Airtime packages will also be available to surf the Internet. Tablets will be available for guests not travelling with a device.

The company says the addition of WiFi is a strategic step forward to enable guests, especially business travellers, to make their time in the air as productive as possible.

“We know that roughly 75 per cent of our guests are bringing their own devices on board today,” says Marshall Wilmot with WestJet.

The company will also install USB/110 volt power outlets in new, slimmer seats on its aircraft to enable guests to charge their devices or keep them charged while using the entertainment system. With a mix of free and paid content, the new system offers the airline additional ancillary revenue opportunities.

There are currently 275 airlines around the world using a Panasonic inflight entertainment system. Panasonic will install the system for testing on one WestJet Boeing Next Generation aircraft before the end of 2014.

WestJet has been talking about the replacement for its seat-back entertainment system for two years, after running into problems with in-flight satellite on cross-border routes.

The company also admits that its customer satisfaction, after the removal of its seat-back TVs fell. That gave Air Canada a competitive advantage as it’s seat-back touchscreen service is one of the best in in the industry.