Major: Delta Transitioning To Viasat Inflight Wi-Fi

Filed Under: Delta, Travel Technology

Delta Air Lines has made an exciting announcement when it comes to inflight Wi-Fi today, which moves the airline one stop closer to offering free connectivity.

Delta will offer Viasat Wi-Fi on 300+ planes

In June 2020 it was announced that Delta would drop its exclusive contract with Gogo for inflight Wi-Fi (the commercial aviation division of Gogo is now owned by Intelsat), and would instead shop around. We’re now seeing the results of that.

As of the summer of 2021, Delta will begin installing Viasat Wi-Fi on its narrow body aircraft:

  • The first planes to get Viasat Wi-Fi are newly delivered A321s, 737-900ERs, and select 757-200s
  • The plan is for over 300 mainline narrow body aircraft to feature Viasat Wi-Fi, with opportunities for additional aircraft to feature Viasat in the future

Delta’s A321s will be among the first planes to get Viasat Wi-Fi

Why Delta is making the switch to Viasat 

In 2019, Delta made its intentions clear to work towards offering free inflight Wi-Fi to all passengers. Delta has already been offering free messaging for all passengers since 2017, but the airline wants to take it a step further, and offer free high-speed inflight connectivity at no cost.

Delta in general invests more in its inflight experience than American and United, so it’s not surprising to see that this is an area where Delta is leading as well.

There was only one major issue — after conducting some tests, it became clear that the Gogo 2Ku Wi-Fi Delta has installed on plans simply doesn’t have the bandwidth to support free Wi-Fi for all. After all, usage increases significantly when Wi-Fi is free.

With Gogo seemingly unable to meet Delta’s needs, the airline started looking elsewhere, which is where Viasat comes into play. JetBlue offers Viasat Wi-Fi and is able to offer free connectivity for all passengers, so that’s clearly what Delta is going for as well.

Delta hopes to eventually offer free Wi-Fi for all

Does that mean Delta will offer free Wi-Fi soon?

Even with the introduction of Viasat Wi-Fi, we shouldn’t expect Delta to introduce free connectivity overnight. That’s still what the airline is working towards, but Delta will initially continue to charge for Viasat Wi-Fi.

I think that’s completely fair — if nothing else, it creates an inconsistent customer experience to offer free Wi-Fi on one flight, but not free Wi-Fi on the next. That being said, I take Delta at its word when it says that the goal is still free inflight connectivity in the long-run. Clearly that’s a major motivation for Delta making the switch here.

Delta will still initially charge for Wi-Fi on Viasat equipped planes

Bottom line

Starting in the summer of 2021, Delta is making the gradual transition from Gogo 2Ku to Viasat for 300+ narrow body aircraft. This is a step in the right direction for Delta’s goal of eventually offering free inflight connectivity for all passengers.

Viasat Wi-Fi offers significantly better speeds and bandwidth than Gogo 2Ku, so I look forward to this continuing to move in the right direction.

What do you make of Delta transitioning to Viasat Wi-Fi?

Comments
  1. As with most things that are “free”, the quality will suffer. There is a limited bandwidth and if they don’t have to pay, people will waste it on nonsense. Then people who were willing to pay and had to use it for work have crap internet

  2. Here is an idea: offer free wifi for certain passengers, such as elites and first class passengers. Gives elites another perk, and another incentive to purchase first class.

  3. One of my favorite T-Mobile perks is about to (slowly) become redundant. That said, I’m NEVER leaving Delta, so hopefully TM fills the gap somehow.

  4. Disclosure: I work at Viasat

    While it’s true that bandwidth is a finite resource, Viasat KA band – given the right weather conditions – offers significantly more bandwidth than traditional KU band that Gogo utilizes. While the new contract seems to be for KA band-only, Viasat also offers KuKa (both KA and KU bands) that can alleviate weather restrictions as well.

    IFC has a lot of work to become as consistent as cellular or broadband/fiber, but I truly believe Viasat offers the best product and service in the segment, and am glad to see my company partner with Delta, which is my favorite domestic airline.

  5. Well there goes my t-mobile perk. No more free WiFi. I hope they offer free WiFi soon through someone else that airlines actually use.

  6. Once spaceX gets its complete constellation done of 12,000 satellites you will see most airlines Wi-Fi using that.

  7. Another area where Delta is attempting to copy JetBlue. JetBlue has been offering free, fast, streaming quality wifi for years. Delta is finally trying to catch up, and not even on its whole fleet.

  8. @Jay Ralston: The same JetBlue “copied” Delta by launching flights to London? Or “copied” American by launching Mint on transcontinental flights? :rolleyes:

  9. And in other news Delta is considering installing the latest in personal entertainment, a private VHS player at all seats!

    ViaSat is a dead man walking, with Elon Musk rolling out StarLink all of their extremely dissatisfied customers are going to run away fast. ViaSat is a company you use because you have to, not because you like their products.

    @J I would say that I feel for you working at that turd company, but I don’t. Lifetip: Start looking for a new job fast, you are going to need it. You are not even a good buggy whip manufacturer, and the Model T of satellite internet is about to run you over.

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