Alaska Airlines will use the satellite-based Gogo 2Ku WiFi solution for its integrated Alaska and Virgin America fleets.
2KU, which Gogo says offer a typical bandwidth of 15 megabits per second per passenger device, will replace Gogo's much slower air-to-ground WiFi service on the entire Alaska-branded fleet of Boeing 737s. On a portion of Virgin America's Airbus fleet, it will replace the popular Ka-band service offered by the satellite company Viasat and used most famously by JetBlue.
Alaska said the 2Ku service will be installed in 40 to 50 planes by the end of 2018. The entire mainline fleets of Alaska and Virgin America are to be satellite-equipped by the end of 2020.
By then, Alaska plans to have joined the two brands into a lone Alaska brand.
With the installation of Gogo's 2Ku service, flyers will have WiFi service from gate-to-gate, an upgrade from the current service, which on aircraft equipped with Gogo's air-to-ground WiFi only begins when the plane reaches an altitude of 10,000 feet.
Regional jets operated by Horizon Air and SkyWest, will continue to offer Gogo's air-to-ground service.
Alaska also announced Tuesday that it has begun offering free chat with Gogo Messaging Pass on flights operated by Virgin America -- a benefit already available to guests flying on Alaska.
With free chat, guests flying with Virgin America can now use iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger on their smartphones.
Correction: While 2KU can offer bandwidth of up to 70 megabits per second, Gogo said it is typically getting 15 megabits per second, per passenger device.