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Free Wi-Fi and Satellite TV Coming to an Airline Near You

JetBlue will move from being behind the crowd to becoming a frontrunner in the airline Wi-Fi derby. The airline is doing final tests on its proprietary satellite Wi-Fi system (called "Fly-Fi"), which it hopes to have installed fleet-wide by sometime next year.

JetBlue crows that its Wi-Fi will be "free," but the fine print says it will be free only for the first 30 planes. After that, the airline is looking at various price models, but you can expect it to meet or better the competition. According to reports, JetBlue has arranged for the launch of its own exclusive-use satellite, which it promises will provide the "best" in-flight Wi-Fi, with the highest bandwidth in the business. Coupled with JetBlue's best-in-show coach seating, the airline cements its position as the top choice for economy travelers.

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JetBlue isn't the only carrier upgrading its connectivity. Southwest has cut a deal with Dish TV to offer free access to 13 live TV channels plus 75 on-demand shows. All you need to do is download "Dish Anywhere" and "Hopper Transfers" apps to your Internet-enabled smartphones or devices; you need not be a current Dish subscriber.

Initial use will be limited to non-phone devices, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is considering relaxing rules about the use of phones during flight. You won't have to wait long, either: The system is expected to go live next week.

Will these perks make you more likely to fly with JetBlue or Southwest?

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