Today is a very big day for us. For you, too. Today we pulled back the curtain on our brand spanking new inflight entertainment system – with Internet connectivity.

You can check out the official news release, but here’s the skinny. We’ve inked a deal with Panasonic’s airline entertainment systems division to install an industry-leading, and totally cool entertainment package on all our aircraft. It features live streaming TV channels as well as packaged TV series, movies, magazines and more. Some of the content will be free and some you’ll pay for. In addition, we’ll also have WiFi on WestJet planes, so you can check your email, surf the net or keep up-to-date with your Facebook or Twitter feeds or your favourite airline blogs (like ours). You’ll also be able to book flights and vacations and manage your own travel on westjet.com while you’re in the air.

Right now, we know that about 75 per cent of our guests already bring their own web-enabled devices when they fly, so it makes sense for us to hook-up with a system that streams a ton of content wirelessly from a server on board the plane. The plan is to feature select channels of live TV, probably news and sports, plus some classic TV series. We’ll also have a mix of new and old movies, games and popular magazines that you can stream to your own phone, tablet or laptop. For those folks who don’t own a WiFi-enabled device, you’ll be able to rent a tablet from us during your flight.

Airlines all over the world are using Panasonic entertainment systems. They’re the world leader. The best part of all is that we’ll have WiFi everywhere we fly thanks to a Satellite-based Internet connection. Whether you’re going to Canada or Costa Rica, Ixtapa or Ireland , you’ll have the same access to the same entertainment line-up and be able to connect to the Internet on board.

And did we mention we’ll have power outlets? Yep, both USB and 110 volt plug-ins so you can charge your devices or keep them running while you’re tweeting, posting winglet photos and surfing the net.

With over 100 Boeing Next-Generation 737s, it’s going to take a few years to install this new system on all of our aircraft. We thank you in advance for your patience as we start with our 800-series aircraft that don’t have TV monitors on them, and then move through the rest of the fleet. We’re aiming to have one aircraft with the new system installed toward the end of this year. From there, we’ll equip the whole fleet as quickly as possible.

We’ll certainly have more details to share in the coming months and wanted to share the good news with you right away. This is incredibly exciting for us and for our guests. You’re going to have access to the Internet as well as more live and stored content than ever before. Pack your devices and get set for a whole new entertainment experience on board WestJet flights in the future!

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  • MaryBKirby

    Hi Marshall – a few questions for clarity. Are you offering Panasonic Global Communications Services, with eXConnect Ku connectivity, eXTV (tv over IP but streamed) plus eXW wireless IFE (cached content streamed to passengers’ own devices)? Also, why will only a single 737 be fitted before year-end? What slimline seat are you offering? Will you increase the number of seats on board your aircraft (what seat pitch can we expect)? Who is providing your in-seat power – Astronics? Finally, what will you do with all the seats, LiveTV monitors and Ku DBS antennas on your current 737s – is there any way to recycle some of these materials?

  • gm

    Will this be gate to gate?

  • http://blog.westjet.com/ Greg Hounslow

    Hi Mary, thanks for the questions. I’m glad that our Media team was able to get you answers quickly yesterday. For the benefit of those who would like to read some answers, I recommend you check out Mary’s article here: http://www.runwaygirlnetwork.com/2014/02/14/graphic-panasonic-reveals-latest-ku-coverage-map-as-westjet-adopts-ku/. It’s very detailed and will also show you exactly where (i.e. everywhere we fly!) Panasonic’s IFEC system has Internet connectivity.

  • http://blog.westjet.com/ Greg Hounslow

    Gate-to-gate personal electronic device (PED) use is a different regulation entirely than use of PEDs that send or receive a signal. We’ll be working with Transport Canada to gain regulatory approval for the use of PEDs that send or receive a signal, as it’s key to the functionality of our IFEC system. We can’t say whether there will be any changes in gate-to-gate use at this time.

  • dkwood

    Westjet needs to step up their game. They need to deliver what the customer wants. The customer doesn’t want the seats jammed together so tightly, that you feel like sardines jammed in a can. All this talk about eXConnect Ku connectivity means nothing. The customer wants live satellite tv, without having to rent a tablet. The back of the seat monitors would have worked if Westjet hadn’t jammed all the seats together like all the other airlines are doing. They need to start thinking about their customers needs and not how to squeeze a few more dollars out of each plane load. Customers are going to start looking for better value and convenience at some point, and it just maybe some other airline.

  • Adam Z

    Disagree. I want to use my iphone/pad online. I almost never use the onboard screen except to see distance to destination.

    Speaking of which. I’d love for the on board router to have its own home page which includes live flight details.

  • dkwood

    I totally agree. It would be great to be able to log on to email or twitter as soon as the flight is in the air I have a feeling that the on board router will be swamped with over 100 plus passengers attempting to log on with various platforms. The result will no doubt be a pay for service, with those paying the most getting the best service level.

  • janet

    I totally agree, on long flights it is very uncomfortable squeezing together, and not everyone wants to use a tablet, we love the t.v. don’t let them go.

  • Me

    You’re flying in the sky in a chair. That alone is pretty incredible, don’t you think? If you want more leg room, why not pay the extra couple bucks for an emergency exit?

  • dkwood

    Don’t get me wrong. I love flying, and fly several times a year, What I have noticed is a deterioration in the comfort level with flying. I have been paying the extra bucks for the extras. Many of these extras were at one time included in the price.

  • Bobbie Garnet Bees

    Just an odd question. But with everyone bringing a wifi enabled laptop, phone and tablet onboard, how well do the avionics cope with this noise?
    Especially with most planes being fly-by-wire now.

  • Bobbie Garnet Bees

    Just wondering, will the new Panasonic system handle Metric or will I need to bring a slide rule on the plane so I can convert from MPH to Km/h and from feet to metres.

  • J from Toronto

    Agree !!

  • J from Toronto

    Fully agree I’m looking at US carriers now. Why don’t you understand people want to be comfortable flying !! Not crowded in to slim hard seats especially older folks with aching joints ! Seat back IFE is far better for a few hours, far less hassle than traveling with your own set up and families don’t have 4 or 5 tablets. Don’t copy Air Canada re the seating either. I fly AA out of DFW now because of their Rouge flights. American Airlines has large seatback TVs and great comfy seats. Also Porter by 2015 will be flying again with comfortable seats out of B Bishop to the US and the Caribbean – you’ll lose a lot of customers to their much better legroom and far more comfortable seats.

  • Patrick Conway

    I always take the plus seats unless I’m just doing my almost monthly Montreal-Toronto trip. I would definitely like to see the new tech sooner rather than later… especially for my hauls over to BC… I hate to say I sometimes go AC for those because there’s a bit more leg room and they have the entertainment systems and chargers already…