Delta Is Introducing Free Inflight Messaging

Filed Under: Delta, Travel Technology

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.

Delta also plans to eventually offer free inflight Wi-Fi without restrictions.

  1. Among the first texts will most likely be “How the hell am I going to spend $250K on my damn card next year?!?!? LOL”

  2. Mr. Bastian, if you forcing us to spend $250K on Delta card just to get Diamond Medallion, all of us are going to switch our loyalty.

  3. A step in the right direction.

    Can’t wait to read all the bought-my-status medallion comments on here again today.

  4. A, nobody is forcing you to spend $250k on your Delta card just to get Diamond Medallion. You could, ya know, actually fly a lot.

  5. United used to (may still) accidentally offer this feature on certain flights 🙂

    Depending on the wifi technology and wifi portal they used to use, I found that I could inadvertently get free iMessaging and receive whatsapp, GroupMe, and Facebook messages without paying for wifi. I haven’t tested it recently but was a handy glitch.

  6. @jetset: Flew UA Monday between SAN and IAH and can confirm the accidentally free data connectivity is still there, but seems to be limited to just iMessage. Neither of my WhatsApp or Facebook messages was delivered, nor was any message that relied on cellular. And pictures or other multimedia weren’t coming through – only text. Anymore I always test this out just to see if it’s a fluke, and I have pretty decent success. It’s great.

  7. @A: just FYI the $250k spend on a credit card to get Delta Diamond is better than what AA and UA offer. Thus, although it is ridiculous it is still better than nothing. If you really want Diamond, fly Delta and spend the money on their flights. Simple as that.

  8. I am very happy about this!! I’m a happy Verizon customer who has always been jealous of the T-Mobile benefit. Glad I’ll be able to use now when not purchasing a full wifi pass.

  9. @Lucky- you don’t need to be a T-Mobile customer to get free messaging, all you need is a phone number that is on T-Mobile. I know as I’m a verizon customer though when I go on planes I enter my uncle’s phone number (He has T-Mobile)

  10. Dear Everyone Who is Still Complaining About the Delta MQD Waiver,

    Bye. Have fun flying with worse airlines.


    Easily spends more than 15k a year in flights which isn’t that hard if you are a true business traveler

    PS – this thread isn’t about the waiver, it’s about wifi

  11. This a great perk which my girlfriend and I will enjoy when I’m traveling for work. Add this in with the easy $15k MQDs I should get next year, and 2019 could be a good year of flying for me. I never knew that T-mobile offered those benefits, but I still don’t think I could trust them where I live. Verizon still has the best coverage in rural America.

  12. JK – Fly a lot? A frequent flyer programme that expects people to fly frequently in order to get status? I can’t see such a thing catching on…

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