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Alaska Airlines Lets Passengers Chat For Free With Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp

As carriers compete to progressively roll out onboard Wi-Fi services, Alaska Airlines has moved ahead of the game by offering free access to instant messaging services for passengers on its aircraft.

AFP Relaxnews

Updated:January 11, 2017, 10:58 AM IST
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Alaska Airlines Lets Passengers Chat For Free With Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp
Alaska Airlines is offering passengers free onboard access to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and iMessage. (Photo courtesy: AFP/ Stan HONDA)
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As carriers compete to progressively roll out onboard Wi-Fi services, Alaska Airlines has moved ahead of the game by offering free access to instant messaging services for passengers on its aircraft.

Alaska Airlines, which operates domestic flights in North America, as well as international routes to Mexico, Costa Rica and Cuba, is currently beta testing onboard access to selected instant messaging services.

Passengers will be able to use Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and iMessage when cruising at 35,000 feet at no extra cost. This new functionality will be fully operational from January 24, the airline has announced.

Passengers will simply be required to sign into a "Gogo Wi-Fi" account, then follow a few simple steps to continue conversations with friends and relatives on the web's main instant messaging platforms.

Internet access is one of the major challenges currently being tackled by the airline industry. Air France's freshly inaugurated Boeing 787 offers passengers onboard Wi-Fi, with packages of up to 200MB priced between €5 and €30. Emirates offers 10MB of data onboard its A380, rising to 500MB for a token $1 charge.

Wi-Fi is also a new battleground for low-cost carriers. Norwegian, the long-haul budget airline offering cheap fares to New York, uses free onboard Wi-Fi to stand out from competitors. Currently, "Norwegian Wi-Fi Access" is only available on flights within Europe and between the USA and the Caribbean.

However, since installing the necessary equipment can prove highly costly for airlines, Wi-Fi connectivity is still by no means commonplace among onboard services.

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