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Spirit Airlines will be first ‘ultra low-cost’ carrier in u.s. to offer wi-fi
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Spirit Airlines will be first ‘ultra low-cost’ carrier in u.s. to offer wi-fi

Spirit Airlines is introducing a new fee, but it’s for an option the carrier thinks customers will be happy about: in-flight Wi-Fi.

Spirit announced Friday that it will become the first North American no-frills "ultra low-cost carrier" to add that capability, unveiling an aggressive plan to equip its entire fleet of about 120 planes with Wi-Fi by next summer.

Spirit touted the move as fitting into a broader strategy to "invest in the guest” and its ongoing effort to improve customers’ experiences with the carrier.

It"™s an abrupt turn for Spirit, sometimes referred to as "America"™s most-hated airline" "” a tag earned earlier this decade when it struggled with on-time performance, customer complaints and an uneven roll-out of what was then a new fee-heavy business model.

But that has changed, says Spirit president Ted Christie, who points to an on-time arrival rate that recently has been among the industry"™s best and an improving rate of customer complaints.

Christie says adding Wi-Fi is is part of an “evolution” that’s proving low-fare budget air travel doesn"™t have to be awful.

"Someone who may have traveled with us five or six years ago is going to have a completely different experience today," Christie says in an interview with USA TODAY. "I think that"™s what we"™re excited to crow about."

"We can show we are a best-in-class operator," he says about the carrier"™s efforts to improve punctuality and reduce cancellations.

"We can show that our overall onboard experience is improving," he continues, noting what he calls "the friendliest flight attendants in the business who have now received guest-satisfaction training (and) the newest fleet in America with the cleanest airplanes.".

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