It couldn’t be more fortuitous: just as the FAA lifts restrictions on the use of electronic gadgets during flights, JetBlue launches Fly-Fi, its satellite-based Wi-Fi system. Fly-Fi is hyped as the fastest in-flight Internet service ever, with “exponentially more bandwidth than any other product in commercial aviation”—as good or better than what you can get on the ground. And it uses satellite technology, for gate-to-gate connectivity. (By contrast, the majority of U.S. airlines use Gogo, a cell-tower-based Wi-Fi service that doesn’t function under 10,000 feet.)
Given their competitive advantage, JetBlue rightly chose to brand its new offering with a proprietary name rather than use a purely descriptive term. And they got it right. Streamlined (it’s a portmanteau of sorts) and catchy, thanks to rhyme and alliteration, Fly-Fi sounds like something new, fast, and edgy. The word “fly” serves as category descriptor and speed-evoking metaphor. And while Fly-Fi is distinctive enough to be proprietary, it’s also extremely intuitive. (As a brand naming specialist, I assure you that’s no small feat.) The only fly in the ointment is that while Fly-Fi reads well, it’s a little tricky to pronounce clearly. But that’s a niggle.
No doubt other carriers will eventually catch up with the JetBlue technology. (United and Southwest already offer some version of satellite service though not, apparently, as fast as JetBlue’s.) Whether they’ll then try to brand their Wi-Fi with a flashy proprietary name, or stick to something more descriptive (United’s Wi-Fi service currently goes by the underwhelming United Wi-Fi) remains to be seen. A lot should depend on whether they have something truly new and great to showcase. Meanwhile, JetBlue is first out of the gate and flying high.