Spirit Airlines will be the first U.S. ultralow-cost carrier to equip its aircraft with WiFi.

WiFi is to be rolled out on the first Spirit aircraft in the fall. The carrier plans to have its entire fleet WiFi-equipped by the second half of next year, Spirit president Ted Christie said.

"The best thing about it is it's going to enhance the guests' onboard experience without affecting how we sell our product," Christie said. "We've managed to create a value enhancer and revenue enhancer for Spirit without increasing our cost structure."

Christie declined to say how much it will cost to make the airline's fleet of 119 Airbus narrowbody aircraft WiFi-ready, but said those who choose to use the service will be the ones paying for it and that the installation won't impact Spirit's basic airfares.

Spirit will offer WiFi at varying speeds and for varying costs so that passengers can decide whether they want to pay more for a high-speed streaming service or less for functionality that is only fast enough for less intensive tasks, such as surfing the web.

WiFi will be offered at an average cost of $6.50 per flight, with prices varying not only by the bandwidth a passenger chooses, but also by route length and demand.

Spirit signed a contract Friday with French avionics company Thales to provide its WiFi service.

Christie said the bandwidth will be fast enough to give Spirit customers the same WiFi experience they have at home.

In adding WiFi, Spirit will beat out its ultralow-cost U.S. competitors Frontier and Allegiant, whose aircraft aren't connected.

The introduction fits into a broader marketing effort that Spirit unveiled Friday called Invest in the Guest. It's an initiative designed to reverse the airline's reputation for being inexpensive but not customer-friendly.

"Spirit Airlines is all about evolution," Christie said. "When we started, the core objective was to get the cost as low as possible and drive low fares. Now we've focused on how do we evolve the model in a way that can deliver value and customer satisfaction."

Spirit continues to fly tightly configured aircraft featuring seats that don't recline and only 28 inches of space between rows -- fewer than all U.S. airlines except Frontier. And it continues to draw more complaints to the Department of Transportation per enplanement than any other U.S. airline.

But the carrier has recently improved other customer service elements. Spirit's on-time performance in February, the most recent month for which the Bureau of Transportation Statistics has released data, was fourth best among the 18 carriers tracked, continuing a trend of strong on-time performance results since the fall. In addition, Spirit's mishandled-baggage rate was the best in the U.S. industry in February.

Other recent customer-facing initiatives include a revamp of its website to make it more mobile-friendly, the introduction of a check-in app and the introduction of self-bag tagging.

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