Melanie Lieberman

The days of agonizingly slow in-flight Wi-Fi could soon be behind us.

May 09, 2017

On Tuesday, Gogo’s 737 Flying Lab — the “Jimmy Ray” — departed from Newark to show off the latest in-flight Wi-Fi. It was headed north, toward Vermont, but not really going anywhere. 

This flight to nowhere was all about testing the company's upgraded 2Ku technology, which started rolling out last year and is scheduled for installation on 1,600 aircraft across the world by the third quarter of this year.

With Gogo's new Wi-Fi product, you can actually do things online while flying.

Really.

New modems and new antennae can now receive several hundreds of megabits from a series of high-input satellites — we recorded web speeds of 7.85 seconds on Netflix, 2.23 on Gmail, and 16.39 on Facebook.

On a tablet, download speeds hit 12.82 Mbps, with upload speeds of 6.47 Mbps. Mobile phones were faster, with 25.70 Mbps for downloading and 7.23 Mbps for uploading.

Basically, that means you can stream the latest episode of Black Mirror with almost no buffering, and send an e-mail with a handful of photos taken on the "Jimmy Ray" in approximately two minutes.

“The average traveler can experience streaming video, fast browsing, and experience gate to gate Wi-Fi,” Gogo’s media relations manager, Meredith Payette, told Travel + Leisure. “[They] can do everything they would on the ground — just in the sky.”

Melanie Lieberman

At this time, Delta Air Lines has more than 100 aircraft flying with Gogo’s latest 2Ku technology. Aeromexico, Virgin Australia, American Airlines, and British Airways are all committed to receive these new modems and antennae.

Both leisure travelers, as well as business travelers, might find this kind of service non-negotiable in the coming years. According to Gogo’s forthcoming Global Traveler Research Series, 48 percent of millennials would choose an airline depending on the availability of Wi-Fi.

Of course, the true test for Gogo's advanced 2Ku in-flight Wi-Fi will be when all 130-plus passengers on a 737 try to upload a selfie at the same time. 

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