Phone addicts, rejoice! Your days of waiting for spotty aeroplane Wi-Fi to load your Instagram feed may soon be coming to an end as airlines look for new ways to connect their passengers to high-speed internet.
Hawaii Airlines just became the first major airline to sign an agreement with SpaceX’s Starlink, providing passengers with complimentary Wi-Fi through the satellite constellation that’s currently being built out in low-Earth orbit. The service is set to launch on select aircraft as early as next year, according to the airline.
Elon Musk’s private space venture has reportedly been in talks with other airlines. “We’re in talks with several of the airlines,” SpaceX’s VP of Starlink Jonathan Hofeller told a panel at the Connected Aviation Intelligence Summit in June 2021. “We have our own aviation product in development … we’ve already done some demonstrations to date, and looking to get that product finalised to be put on aircraft in the very near future.”
Earlier this month, Delta Airlines reportedly began testing out Starlink satellites for their aeroplane Wi-Fi needs as well. A spokesperson for the company confirmed in an email that the airline was indeed running tests of Starlink internet, but provided no additional details on when it would potentially launch.
SpaceX is currently building a megaconstellation of internet satellites in low-Earth orbit. So far, the company has launched 2,335 satellites to orbit but it is still hoping to send a total of 42,000. Starlink satellites are meant to provide high-speed connectivity to the most distant parts of the world, and the company has also shown an interest in shifting more towards commercial clients rather than just sticking to households.
SpaceX CEO Musk had tweeted that Starlink was looking to get certified to service different aircrafts such as Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.
Prior to this recent deal, Hawaii airlines had no internet on its planes. “We waited until technology caught up with our high standards for guest experience, but it will be worth the wait,” Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Peter Ingram, said in a statement.
The service will be provided on flights between the islands and the continental U.S, Asia and Oceania on Airbus A330 and A321neo aircraft, as well as an incoming fleet of Boeing 787-9s.
Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.