Yahoo, RIM and JetBlue have partnered to offer free Wi-Fi connections aboard domestic US flights in a test which will begin Tuesday.
The initial tests will offer limited Wi-Fi for email and instant messaging in a plane dubbed BetaBlue and if the tests are a success, JetBlue expects to offer the service nationwide.
The tests however are limited to the services provided by JetBlue parters Yahoo and RIM, and hopefully, this access will expand to normal Wi-Fi Internet access:
From the Wall Street Journal :
JetBlue passengers on the test aircraft who have Wi-Fi-enabled laptops and Yahoo Mail or Yahoo Messenger accounts will be able to send emails and instant messages to friends on the ground and receive messages back. Passengers who have new Wi-Fi-enabled BlackBerry smartphones — initially only models 8820 and Curve 8320 will work — will be able to access their BlackBerry email and instant messages.
I can’t wait to book a flight on the BetaBlue just to check out the system but am a bit puzzled by the offering of free Wi-Fi. Sure, one day free Wi-Fi will hep me to make a decision on whether or not to fly SouthWest or JetBlue, but paying $5 or $10 for unlimited Wi-Fi would be much more worth taking advantage of free email and messaging services. With Internet access, a 3 hour flight would essentially pay for itself due to all of the work that could be done on the flight with web access – and the ability to focus.
I also find it interesting that JetBlue is partnering with Yahoo on this, especially since they use Google Maps to power their in-flight monitors.