Calgary-based WestJet Airlines Ltd. will start offering Wi-Fi aboard its flights by the end of 2014, with its new inflight entertainment system coming from satellite-based capability.
Passengers will be able use their own electronic devices or laptops to stream live TV or other content, and check email or surf the internet.
WestJet will install the new Panasonic inflight entertainment system on one of its Boeing aircraft before the end of the year and then fine-tune the system before rolling it out on the rest of its jets.
It will be ripping out the existing entertainment system in the seatbacks and installing USB/110 vot power outlets on new slimmer seats so guests can charge their devices.
WestJet is offering a mix of paid and free content, including movie streaming, TV, online magazines and the internet.
The airline did not say which services would be free and which would be available for a fee, nor how it planned to charge for inflight Wi-Fi or entertainment.
It will have tablets for passengers who don’t have their own.
WestJet vice-president Marshall Wilmot said about 75 per cent of passengers have laptops or tablets with them.
The ability to check email and work on shared documents will be welcomed by business travellers.
Air Canada does not offer Wi-Fi, but recently rolled out its own wireless product on its low-cost carrier, Rouge. People with Apple products need an app to use it.
WestJet has signed a multi-year deal with Panasonic Avionics Corp., which provides systems for airlines around the world.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) moved late last year to allow passengers to use electronic devices on U.S. flights, but Canadian regulators will have to approve WestJet's shift to Wi-Fi.