New inflight entertainment system and Wi-Fi on WestJet

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 Wi-Fi 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 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 Wi-Fi-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 Wi-Fi 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!