Wi-Fi access isn’t free on Alaska Airlines flights. But at least for the next year, the airline’s passengers can use inflight Wi-Fi to send and receive unlimited texts for free.
Here’s how it works:
- Free chat is available on flights with Gogo Wi-Fi. “Availability on other flights may vary”
- Chat is text-only—no videos, photos or SMS messages
- Free chat is only supported on three apps: iMessage, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp
- Free chat is not supported while flying over Mexico, the Pacific Ocean to/from Hawaii, or Latin America
- “Speed and performance of free messaging is not guaranteed”
- Free chat will be available through December 31, 2017
Alaska describes the service as it currently exists as in beta, suggesting that there are improvements and enhancements to come. So perhaps passengers can hope that more chat apps will be supported in future (WeChat?), and that free chat will be made available on flights outside the U.S.
It’s a small step, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Reader Reality Check
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.