6 Ways To Save Money On Inflight Wi-Fi (2021)

6 Ways To Save Money On Inflight Wi-Fi (2021)

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Inflight Wi-Fi has come a long way over the past several years. Back in the day inflight Wi-Fi was the exception rather than the norm, though things have changed significantly. Not only have we seen inflight Wi-Fi availability increase significantly, but speeds have also been greatly improved. Many of us can now be as productive in the air as on the ground (which is one of the reasons I value flying first class, since it gives you some extra space to be productive).

How to score discounts on inflight Wi-Fi

While for the most part Wi-Fi isn’t that ridiculously priced (at least when you consider that you’re in a metal tube going 500 miles per hour seven miles above the earth’s surface), there are still some opportunities to save money.

Some of the better ones have come and gone, so in this post I wanted to look at six ways you can save on inflight Wi-Fi. In no particular order…

Use an airline credit card benefit

Select airline credit cards offer discounts or statement credits for onboard Wi-Fi purchases. For example:

The right Southwest credit card will get you a lot of free Wi-Fi

Buy Gogo Wi-Fi passes in advance

Gogo has variable pricing once you’re onboard a flight, and prices can differ substantially based on the route, airline, day of the week, etc. One way to lock in a certain price is to buy a Gogo pass in advance. Gogo sells two types of passes in advance for travel on Alaska and Delta:

  • Buy a continuous one hour pass for $7, valid on any domestic Gogo equipped plane
  • Buy a continuous 24-hour pass for $19, valid on any domestic Gogo equipped plane

The passes are all valid for a year from when they’re purchased. The one hour pass isn’t that great of a deal, while I’d say that in most cases the 24-hour pass represents significant savings, especially if you’re taking multiple flights (they do all have to be on the same airline, though).

In some cases airlines will also sell Wi-Fi passes in advance, so keep an eye out for that.

Buy a monthly subscription

There are also some opportunities to buy monthly Wi-Fi subscriptions in advance. In some cases these passes are sold directly by airlines, and in some cases they’re sold by Wi-Fi providers.

For example, Gogo sells monthly Wi-Fi passes for Alaska and Delta. This can make sense if you’re a very frequent traveler on a particular airline. The options are as follows:

  • You can buy a domestic Wi-Fi subscription for Alaska or Delta for $49.95 per month, or $599 per year
  • You can buy a Delta global Wi-Fi subscription (so this is also available on long haul aircraft) for $69.95 per month

In some cases we also see airlines sell monthly subscriptions directly. This is often done when airlines have multiple Wi-Fi providers (for example, American’s domestic fleet has Wi-Fi from both Gogo and Viasat). American Airlines sells Wi-Fi subscriptions valid on its domestic fleet (this doesn’t work on long haul flights). The options are as follows:

  • You can buy a Wi-Fi subscription for one device for $49.95 per month
  • You can buy a Wi-Fi subscription for two devices for $59.95 per month

United Airlines also sells Wi-Fi subscriptions, and the options are as follows:

  • You can buy a Wi-Fi subscription for North and Central America for $49 per month, or $539 annually
  • You can buy a Wi-Fi subscription for global flights for $69 per month, or $689 annually

Use your T-Mobile Wi-Fi benefit

T-Mobile has a partnership with Gogo, which works on select Alaska, American, and Delta planes:

  • If you have a Magenta plan, you get one hour of free Wi-Fi plus unlimited free texting for the entire flight on your mobile device
  • If you have a Magenta Plus plan, you get unlimited free Wi-Fi, including texting, for the entire flight on your mobile device

To take advantage of this just make sure that your flight features Gogo Wi-Fi, go to the log-in page, and you’ll see an option to enter your mobile number to take advantage of the perk.

Fly JetBlue or La Compagnie

If you want high-speed Wi-Fi but don’t want to pay at all, then fly an airline with free Wi-Fi. Two airlines that come to mind as being revolutionary in that regard are JetBlue and La Compagnie. They both offer free high-speed Wi-Fi to all of their passengers with no data caps, provided by Viasat. They’re pretty exceptional in that regard.

La Compagnie offers free high speed Wi-Fi

There are some other airlines offering free Wi-Fi, though either with data limits, or the speeds aren’t that good.

On a larger scale, some airlines are working towards offering free Wi-Fi. For example, Delta is actively working towards this, and I imagine other airlines will follow Delta’s lead. However, it might be a while until that becomes a reality.

Fly first or business class on select airlines

As a general rule of thumb, airlines don’t offer free Wi-Fi in first and business class. For example, aside from JetBlue, no other US airlines offers premium passengers free Wi-Fi. That being said, some premium international airlines do offer free Wi-Fi, particularly in first class. For example, this is the case on airlines like All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, etc.

Restrictions vary — some airlines offer unlimited free Wi-Fi, while others have data caps.

Cathay Pacific offers free Wi-Fi in first class

Bottom line

Inflight Wi-Fi has come a long way, and I imagine it’s only a matter of time until it’s free on a widespread basis. In the meantime, there are options that can save you some money compared to the “sticker price” you see for Wi-Fi onboard.

Personally I have T-Mobile, so that gets me free Wi-Fi on my mobile device on all Gogo equipped aircraft. I also have a monthly Wi-Fi subscription with American Airlines, since that’s my primary airline in the US. I have a two device plan, which works great, since Ford and I typically travel together. Then for Alaska and Delta I’ll typically purchase a day pass in advance.

Other than that, I’ll typically just pay “out of pocket” for Wi-Fi once onboard.

Are there any other tips for saving on inflight Wi-Fi that I missed?

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  1. GUWonder

    SAS has its in-flight internet with options to pay a price quoted in USD, a price quoted in EUR, a price quoted in NOK, a price quoted in SEK, or a price quoted in DKK.

    Selecting the price in “the right currency” at a given time can mean saving some money since currency movements aren’t very quickly reflected in the advertised internet prices listed in nominal currency terms.

  2. Tennen

    SAS has free WiFi for Business, Plus, EB Diamond, and EB Gold. IME, speed is ok at best, and you get disconnected often. It's also hit or miss with availability on intra-Europe flights, unless things have changed in the last 2 years.

  3. Stuart

    Everyone is missing the one option that is the cheapest workaround. Watch a movie and sleep. It's free. God knows I get enough of my devices on the ground. It's nice to take a break in the air.

    1. Eskimo

      I don't think not having it should be considered a workaround. It's like I'm hungry but I don't want to buy food, so my free workaround is looking at pictures of food.

      But yes, with wifi onboard being very common, my excuse to disconnect is harder and harder.

  4. RF

    United sells a WiFi subscription also. $49/mo. for domestic, $69/mo. for global. Paying for a year yields some savings.

  5. Miles

    There are a few credit cards that include a limited number of GoGo passes.

    1. DCS

      That was true at some points (e.g., AMEX BIZ PLAT), but is it still true? If so, could you name the cards that still provide GoGo passes?

    2. Eskimo

      Most of them stop handing out 10-12 Gogo passes annually.

      But one major card still does. Too bad it's not from any of the mainstream card pusher's blog interest to promote them.

      The US Bank Altitude Reserve, a very solid card that takes a top spot in my Apple watch wallet ;)
      This card gives you 12 passes annually, for now. Like how they gutted this on their FlexPerks, it probably wont last forever.

      ...

      Most of them stop handing out 10-12 Gogo passes annually.

      But one major card still does. Too bad it's not from any of the mainstream card pusher's blog interest to promote them.

      The US Bank Altitude Reserve, a very solid card that takes a top spot in my Apple watch wallet ;)
      This card gives you 12 passes annually, for now. Like how they gutted this on their FlexPerks, it probably wont last forever.

      US Bank, Wells Fargo (when they had decent cards) are not getting enough love.
      Actually any card that isn't Amex, Capital One, Citi, or Chase isn't getting enough love.

  6. DCS

    Big omission on ways to pay for inflight wifi: AMEX airline credits, by far the best way to pay for wifi, if one has such a credit or two...

    I never pay for inflight wifi because between the AMEX HH Aspire and the AMEX Plat I have $450 in airline credit that I use to connect to inflight wifi as soon as it becomes available and for the duration of every flight.

    On TPAC,...

    Big omission on ways to pay for inflight wifi: AMEX airline credits, by far the best way to pay for wifi, if one has such a credit or two...

    I never pay for inflight wifi because between the AMEX HH Aspire and the AMEX Plat I have $450 in airline credit that I use to connect to inflight wifi as soon as it becomes available and for the duration of every flight.

    On TPAC, TATL or TCON flights the wifi fees can be substantial and greatly account for how I draw down those two airline credits every year.

    1. DCS

      BTW, the AMEX airline credit is the "best" way to pay for wi-fi because, unlike other credit card options, it pays the entire bill regardless of how much, up to the total size of the airline credit.

    2. Jim

      This is how I use my AmEx Plat credit also, with United. It can only be used for airline "fees" but I have status so I never have to pay bag fees anyway. Great use for the credit.

    3. Eskimo

      Unfortunately it only works with United. AFAIK, no other airline from AMEX's list triggers wifi purchase, not even Southwest.

    4. DCS

      Unfortunately it only works with United. AFAIK, no other airline from AMEX's list triggers wifi purchase, not even Southwest.

      Oh, really? That's news to me and may explain why so many who disparage United as a subpar airline have a hard time using up their Aspire and/or AMEX Plat airline credit(s), when I have no problem at all using up mine. In fact, I've already used up my Aspire $250 Airline credit for...

      Unfortunately it only works with United. AFAIK, no other airline from AMEX's list triggers wifi purchase, not even Southwest.

      Oh, really? That's news to me and may explain why so many who disparage United as a subpar airline have a hard time using up their Aspire and/or AMEX Plat airline credit(s), when I have no problem at all using up mine. In fact, I've already used up my Aspire $250 Airline credit for the year. How? I used it to pay for wi-fi on my first post-pandemic flight: JFK-SFO flight ($14.99), and then I used to the balance ($235.09) to partially pay for the $550 United Club annual membership fee. Now I just have the AMEX Plat's $200 airline credit (less what I've already used on inflight wi-fi) to use up, and I won't have a hard time getting it done.

      Right now, I am spending a 5-night stay in a one-bedroom suite at the Grand Islander by Hilton Grand Vacations, which is part of the Hilton Hawaiian Village complex and am sure will eat up my $250 Aspire resort credit that many here have reported having a hard time using up (blaming it on shortcomings of either the Hilton Honors program or the AMEX HH Aspire card, when the shortcoming is their own!!!).

    5. Eskimo

      Or maybe it's because those people don't spend their incidentals on lounge membership.
      I know your logic often doesn't agree with general consensus but why would you pay for the United Club membership fee when you can get it cheaper with a Chase card, especially you are bragging about 0/24.
      I'm sure everybody can spend it on lounge membership but they rather hold a credit card which costs less.

      And yes people...

      Or maybe it's because those people don't spend their incidentals on lounge membership.
      I know your logic often doesn't agree with general consensus but why would you pay for the United Club membership fee when you can get it cheaper with a Chase card, especially you are bragging about 0/24.
      I'm sure everybody can spend it on lounge membership but they rather hold a credit card which costs less.

      And yes people who actually used the $300 Equinox credits also think the majority of card holders are blaming it on shortcomings of either the Equinox or the AMEX Platinum card, when the shortcoming is their own!!!

      People are complaining because there are few work arounds to use these credits. Amex wants people to not use these credits by making them very hard to use (and we do complain but it's really their objective all along).
      Take the airline credit, if you have status or fly premium, there is hardly any incidentals left. Alternative, guess an airline you don't fly often but still fly only commit to it in January. And to fly that airline means forgoing elite benefits on your primary airline?

      Equinox? How many cardholders are actually in a vicinity of their clubs and willing to pay the premium.
      Digital credits? I now have Audible membership but have yet to use it once.
      Uber? more expensive than Lyft or DoorDash these days.

      Good for all those who can use them all (like you), but the majority has to balance the benefits with the fees because AMEX design these credits to be hard to use.

    6. DCS

      Or maybe it's because those people don't spend their incidentals on lounge membership.

      Whatever their reason for not spending their incidentals, they should not come here a bitch about how the Aspire is 'useless' because its airline or resort credit is tough redeem; or make the same claims about the AMEX Plat airline credit.

      I know your logic often doesn't agree with general consensus but why would you pay for the United Club membership fee...

      Or maybe it's because those people don't spend their incidentals on lounge membership.

      Whatever their reason for not spending their incidentals, they should not come here a bitch about how the Aspire is 'useless' because its airline or resort credit is tough redeem; or make the same claims about the AMEX Plat airline credit.

      I know your logic often doesn't agree with general consensus but why would you pay for the United Club membership fee when you can get it cheaper with a Chase card, especially you are bragging about 0/24.

      I'm sure everybody can spend it on lounge membership but they rather hold a credit card which costs less.

      Yup, my logic often does not agree with general consensus because the latter is usually wrong.

      FYI: I had the United Club card but decided to get rid of it because its points earning structure got so pitiful in relation to other "premium cards" (e.g., the CSR) that I could no longer justify the high annual membership fee. However, I still wanted to maintain my UA Club membership for my limited domestic travel, so I came up with the perfect solution that would not require me to get yet another credit card, and would also allow me to use up my $450 in airline credit on 2 different AMEX cards, which that folks say is tough to spend!: offset the UA Club membership fee with the AMEX airline credit.

      After I become SQ Gold and SQ*G beginning next February, I will no longer need the UA Club membership because I will be able to get UA lounge access on domestic flights as a SQ*G rather than UA*G, who can't get in...clever, ey?

      BTW, I can easily use up the airline credit even if I do not use it to offset the UA membership fee. I just provided that as an example of the sort of things that one can do to use up the credit instead of letting expire unused! Wi-fi was another example. Other examples of how to use the credit are rather dicey and cannot be disclosed publicly... :-)

      The rest of the comment is just the usual complaints by people who lack imagination, are inflexible or expect everything to be delivered to them on a silver platter, or all of the above. They cannot be taken seriously.

      G'day.

    7. Eskimo

      "Yup, my logic often does not agree with general consensus because the latter is usually wrong."
      And you can bet this statement with the general consensus. LOL.

      "Other examples of how to use the credit are rather dicey and cannot be disclosed publicly... :-)"
      That is exactly how people who used up their credits, had to do. Amex didn't design this $200 to be used up. Those who refuse or ignore to get...

      "Yup, my logic often does not agree with general consensus because the latter is usually wrong."
      And you can bet this statement with the general consensus. LOL.

      "Other examples of how to use the credit are rather dicey and cannot be disclosed publicly... :-)"
      That is exactly how people who used up their credits, had to do. Amex didn't design this $200 to be used up. Those who refuse or ignore to get dicey, will complain about Amex's perfect design.

      I personally think Aspire cards have a great value, to those who can use them.
      I personally think Equinox credits are useless, even to those who can use them.

      I don't think it's fair to call out people who play by the rule in good faith as lack imagination, or inflexible. Some people ethically avoid "dicey and cannot be disclosed publicly" situations.

      The *G lounge access is a bit irony too. I actually flew a lot more UA back when A3 giving out *G a lot easier. Basically UA lost most of my flights because of A3.

    8. DCS

      About the UA lounge access situation, my approach to addressing it trumped the general consensus, so, Q.E.D., again.

      I don't think it's fair to call out people who play by the rule in good faith as lack imagination, or inflexible. Some people ethically avoid "dicey and cannot be disclosed publicly" situations.

      A clear non sequitur. You are assuming that by 'dicey' I meant unethical or illegal. Wrong again. It is no more 'unethical' than the...

      About the UA lounge access situation, my approach to addressing it trumped the general consensus, so, Q.E.D., again.

      I don't think it's fair to call out people who play by the rule in good faith as lack imagination, or inflexible. Some people ethically avoid "dicey and cannot be disclosed publicly" situations.

      A clear non sequitur. You are assuming that by 'dicey' I meant unethical or illegal. Wrong again. It is no more 'unethical' than the fact that inflight wifi triggers the credit for UA but not for other airlines. It simply means that one tries different things to see what works, e.g., paying for the UA Club membership with the Aspire for the first and finding out that the travel credit kicked in to cover part of it. The reason for not promoting them publicly is that it is unclear why some work, so better to avoid spreading misinformation or endorsing something that works because it is a fluke...(not unethical or illegal)

      I have no use for Equinox either, but that does not make the card 'useless'.

      In short, I stand by my statement that the constant complaints about these or other credit card benefits are from people who lack imagination, are inflexible or expect everything to be delivered to them on a silver platter, or all of the above. They cannot be taken seriously.

      I am done here.

  7. Andrew B

    Unless it’s changed, the AA Wi-fi subscription includes domestic flights on wide-bodies (Panasonic equipped).

    1. Russ

      Yes this is correct https://american-wifi-subscription.com/app/ssocp/payment/#/pickapass

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Andrew B

Unless it’s changed, the AA Wi-fi subscription includes domestic flights on wide-bodies (Panasonic equipped).

DCS

About the UA lounge access situation, my approach to addressing it trumped the general consensus, so, Q.E.D., again. <blockquote>I don't think it's fair to call out people who play by the rule in good faith as lack imagination, or inflexible. Some people ethically avoid "dicey and cannot be disclosed publicly" situations.</blockquote> A clear <i>non sequitur</i>. You are assuming that by 'dicey' I meant unethical or illegal. Wrong again. It is no more 'unethical' than the fact that inflight wifi triggers the credit for UA but not for other airlines. It simply means that one tries different things to see what works, e.g., paying for the UA Club membership with the Aspire for the first and finding out that the travel credit kicked in to cover part of it. The reason for not promoting them publicly is that it is unclear why some work, so better to avoid spreading misinformation or endorsing something that works because it is a fluke...(not unethical or illegal) I have no use for Equinox either, but that does not make the card 'useless'. In short, I stand by my statement that the constant complaints about these or other credit card benefits are from people who lack imagination, are inflexible or expect everything to be delivered to them on a silver platter, or all of the above. They cannot be taken seriously. I am done here.

Eskimo

"Yup, my logic often does not agree with general consensus because the latter is usually wrong." And you can bet this statement with the general consensus. LOL. "Other examples of how to use the credit are rather dicey and cannot be disclosed publicly... :-)" That is exactly how people who used up their credits, had to do. Amex didn't design this $200 to be used up. Those who refuse or ignore to get dicey, will complain about Amex's perfect design. I personally think Aspire cards have a great value, to those who can use them. I personally think Equinox credits are useless, even to those who can use them. I don't think it's fair to call out people who play by the rule in good faith as lack imagination, or inflexible. Some people ethically avoid "dicey and cannot be disclosed publicly" situations. The *G lounge access is a bit irony too. I actually flew a lot more UA back when A3 giving out *G a lot easier. Basically UA lost most of my flights because of A3.

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