On a flight yesterday from JFK to Austin, JetBlue finally decided to flip the switch on Fly-Fi, giving lucky passengers an early look at the airline's next-generation in-flight WiFi for the very first time. A flight attendant announced the service -- which is free until 30 planes are retrofitted -- and passengers seated around me pulled out their laptops, tablets and smartphones and tried to hop online. Unfortunately, a recent update caused unexpected performance issues, and Fly-Fi's speed and consistency fell far short. When a flight attendant asked the woman seated in front if me if she had enjoyed her experience at the end of the flight, she responded with "not so much." It wasn't looking good for JetBlue.
I had booked my return to New York on the same aircraft, and following a 20-minute BBQ pitstop at AUS, I got back on board. The issues we experienced on the first flight -- allegedly caused by an incorrect DNS-server listing on the network side -- were completely resolved, making our three-hour hop back to Kennedy Airport much more pleasant. The experience was completely different, though we were offline for 30 minutes or so as we passed over Louisiana and Mississippi. Ultimately, Fly-Fi, which utilizes the ViaSat-1 satellite positioned over North America, was in line with the ViaSat service I've tried on the ground -- when it works, it blows the competition out of the water. It's as close as you'll get to the internet you're used to at home, and it certainly outshines connectivity in pretty much any airline terminal.