Budget airline Spirit will start offering Wi-Fi on its flights sometime later this year, the company announced today. Access will cost an “average price of $6.50” per flight, depending on bandwidth options and what route you’re flying. Spirit will use Ka-band high-speed satellites which should provide a fast enough connection for streaming. The rollout should be complete by summer 2019.
Spirit says the Wi-Fi experience will get even faster in the next few years since the communications group it’s working with will have access to next-generation satellites from SES. Of course, it will face tough competition between now and then, since major airlines all offer some form of “basic economy” fare that threatens the “ultra-low cost” sales pitch of companies like Spirit.
As is typically the case when talking about flying on a budget, consumer choice often comes down to what kinds of sacrifices they’re willing to make. Do you pick the cheap fare that wont let you fly with a full-size carry-on? The one where you board last and have no access to overhead bins? And do you then pay extra to get rid of some of those restrictions, only to help airlines rack up record revenues from fees? Keeping costs down is a great idea, and so is adding now-essential technology like Wi-Fi. Maybe Spirit can find a way to strike that balance while staying competitive, or maybe they’ll just shift the cost somewhere else.