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Alaska Airlines rolls out new on-board e-chat service — and it's free

Alaska Airlines rolls out new on-board e-chat service — and it's free
Alaska Airlines offers a new perk on its Wi-Fi equipped flights: free e-chatting on selected mobile apps. (Alaska Airlines)

Want to keep in touch mid-flight but don't want to purchase a Wi-Fi package? Alaska Airlines rolled out a perk Monday that just might do the trick.

Free Chat, as it’s called, allows fliers to use iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger on its Wi-Fi equipped planes while in the air, a news release says. And, as the name suggests, it’s free.

A few drawbacks: Free Chat isn't available on flights over Mexico, the Pacific Ocean (to and from Hawaii) or Latin America. And you can send only texts, no photos or videos.

Alaska also is luring customers with free movies and TV shows through the end of March.

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This week the airline is launching new premium upgrades — which cost $15 to $79, depending on the flight — that promise more legroom (4 inches, to be exact), early boarding, and free snacks and drinks.

So far the extras are available only on Alaska flights, not company-owned Virgin America (which it bought last year) and Horizon Air fleets.

Many airlines offer on-board Wi-Fi packages that fliers pay for. JetBlue is one exception, allowing passengers to access the Internet without having to pay.

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