On my flight home from Bermuda the WestJet app I had installed on my phone came in unexpectedly handy; I got it for the sole purpose of checking in online without a computer, but once on-board I found out the app was to also serve as my infotainment hub for the ride back to Toronto.
It wasn’t my first experience with in-flight connectivity—I can thank Icelandair last summer for that—but it was the first time I did so via an app. Here’s what it was like…
WestJet sells access to the Internet in blocks of time rather than data. In addition to the 30-minute and 3-hour passes there’s a third option for a full-flight pass, at $13.99 CAD. It would be a nice perk if WestJet offered Internet for free to its passengers at the front of the plane, like Icelandair does. Sadly, they don’t.
Options for streaming entertainment include movies, television and (presumably) live satellite TV. I watched a minute or two of CNN as a test and there was definitely some buffering; I’d expect the Internet service to have similar latency issues.
I also found it odd that there was no Canadian streaming news option. Maybe Air Canada has an exclusive with the CBC, and neither Bell or Rogers are willing to license their content?
When you tap on a specific title it starts streaming right away in a familiar YouTube-style player window. I deliberately paused the video in the screen shot above to show the player controls.
Here’s what a title would look like full-screen. I don’t think it was HD but it was certainly good enough. If you know in advance that your flight will offer WestJet Connect my advice would be to bring a tablet, and a stand; I don’t think anyone would especially enjoy watching a feature-length film on a sub-6 inch screen.
Other features of WestJet Connect include guides to select destinations (Bermuda was not included), weather and news—actually, a single news item. The only missing feature was a flight map; in its place was a status bar with the flight duration that didn’t seem to be working.
Nonetheless, I was duly impressed with the hidden media features of my WestJet app. If you’ve got an upcoming flight on this airline you can download it at the links directly below.