While legroom on US airlines keeps shrinking, carriers have made an effort to improve the experience otherwise, ranging from free snacks to free premium entertainment. Delta has announced their latest initiative to improve the customer experience.
Beginning October 1, 2017, Delta will offer free inflight mobile messaging via iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. This service will support text use only, so you can’t transfer photo or video files for free (which I’m happy about, since bandwidth on planes is extremely limited). This will be available on all Gogo-enabled aircraft (including many longhaul aircraft), which represents a majority of Delta’s fleet.
Per the press release:
“We know many of Delta’s customers want or need to stay connected in the air and on the ground, which is why we’re investing in an easy, free way to send and receive messages inflight through some of the most popular global platforms,” said Tim Mapes, Delta’s Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “Coupled with our investments in seat-back screens, free entertainment and High-Speed Wi-Fi, free messaging is one more way customers can choose how to make the most of their time on Delta flights.”
Delta proudly markets that they’re the first U.S. global carrier to offer this feature. That’s technically true, because “U.S. global carrier” refers to American, Delta, and United. However, it should be noted that Alaska was the first major US airline to introduce this specifically, as they have been offering free inflight messaging since the beginning of 2017. Delta is merely copying here, even if they are the first of the “big three” to offer this. I suspect that American and United will follow soon as well. Then you have JetBlue, which offers unlimited free Wi-Fi for all passengers, no strings attached.
This is a nice feature, though personally I won’t benefit from it. I have T-Mobile, which already comes with unlimited free messaging on Gogo equipped aircraft, plus an hour of unrestricted free Wi-Fi per flight. Add in the fact that they also have a fantastic international program, and I’m very happy to be a T-Mobile customer. However, for Delta flyers this means there’s one less benefit to being a T-Mobile customer, since everyone gets free messaging now.