Delta Air Lines Free Inflight Wi-Fi Launching Soon

Delta Air Lines Free Inflight Wi-Fi Launching Soon

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There’s no denying that inflight connectivity has come a long way. First we saw airlines introduce inflight Wi-Fi in the first place. Then we saw the speed of inflight Wi-Fi greatly improved, so that it’s similar to connectivity on the ground. Lately the focus has increasingly been on making inflight Wi-Fi free.

While JetBlue has been leading the way among US airlines when it comes to offering free inflight Wi-Fi, it looks like Delta will soon become the first global US airline to offer free inflight Wi-Fi. While Delta management has been talking about this for years, it’s now close to becoming a reality.

Delta will offer free inflight Wi-Fi “soon”

As reported by Thrifty Traveler, Delta has revealed some updates about the progress of free inflight Wi-Fi in an internal memo:

  • Delta plans to launch complimentary Wi-Fi on all domestic mainline flights “soon” (unfortunately regional jets won’t get this free service)
  • Delta plans to launch complimentary Wi-Fi on international routes by the end of 2024

Delta has been offering free inflight messaging for a long time now, but the intent is that free inflight Wi-Fi will allow passengers to enjoy unlimited internet access for the entire flight, with no data caps.

Delta has this month started trialing free inflight Wi-Fi on select flights, presumably as a further test. It sounds like we should expect this to be expanded to all mainline Delta jets in the near future. While we don’t have an exact date yet, things seem to be moving along nicely.

Delta will offer free inflight Wi-Fi soon

Why it has taken Delta time to launch free inflight Wi-Fi

Delta’s management has consistently been talking about introducing free inflight Wi-Fi for several years now, so what has taken so long? It comes down to technology. In 2019 Delta conducted some free inflight Wi-Fi trials, but found that the system being used at the time couldn’t support the increased usage when there was no cost to use the service. After all, bandwidth is a bit more limited at 35,000 feet than on the ground.

While Delta had historically worked with Gogo on Wi-Fi, the airline knew that this wouldn’t work in the long run, if the goal was to provide free Wi-Fi. In early 2021, it was announced that Delta would transition to Viasat. The airline is installing Viasat Wi-Fi on 300+ mainline narrow body jets, and good progress has been made with this.

With Viasat it’s much more realistic for Delta to offer free Wi-Fi, since this is the same system you’ll find on JetBlue (which has been offering free Wi-Fi for years).

Delta’s switch to Viasat makes free Wi-Fi realistic

Expect American to offer free Wi-Fi as well

In the US airline industry we see a lot of copying between airlines. While Delta was the first of the “big three” US carriers committed to offering free Wi-Fi, there have been widespread rumors that American will match.

American also has Viasat installed on most of its narrow body jets, so there shouldn’t be too many technological limitations here. It’s anyone’s guess when American matches, but I think it’s a sure bet that it will happen eventually. I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens around the same time that Delta introduces it, just to steal a bit of the Atlanta-based carrier’s thunder.

Unfortunately United is still quite a ways off from offering free Wi-Fi, since the carrier has the weakest overall Wi-Fi offering of the three airlines.

Expect American to also eventually offer free Wi-Fi

Bottom line

While we still don’t have an exact date, it’s expected that Delta will roll out free Wi-Fi on all mainline narrow body jets “soon,” with a plan to roll this out on international flights by the end of 2024. My guess is that Delta plans to roll this out by the fall, but that’s only speculation on my part.

While JetBlue has been doing this for years, it’s exciting to think that some global US carriers could soon offer free Wi-Fi as well.

What do you make of Delta offering free inflight Wi-Fi, and when do you think it will happen?

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  1. Barry Graham Guest

    If it doesn't degrade service it's a good thing. If it does. I hope there will be ways to pay to get acceptable service consistently.

  2. Miles Ahead Guest

    At the end of the day, nothing is "free". It will simply be baked into the chart of your ticket abs of the expense, customer perception of band value warrant, the ticket price will rise as a result.

  3. iamhere Guest

    The other airlines are waiting for Delta to do the legwork and then they will just follow saving them money. The airlines will save in the end because it will probably start to be the end of the in flight entertainment or other offerings.

  4. Reno Joe Guest

    T-Mobile Magenta Max (regular, military, and 55+ versions) gives one unlimited data. Someone in George Romey's situation -- data in a lounge -- wouldn't need to worry about hooking up to the lounge's WiFi for data cost reasons. Just use mobile data. The same plan gives one in-flight WiFi on the legacy carriers. Someone on a Delta regional flight (as mentioned in the article) wouldn't be left out in the cold.

  5. Evan Guest

    I can see AA offering free wi-fi "selectively" vs free wi-fi for everyone. I just don't see AA giving up on that revenue, especially for the peons in coach.

    1. Reno Joe Guest

      BA gives complimentary WiFi to first class passengers.

      I regularly fly AA Flagship First. And, I regularly give AA feedback about nickel and diming a customer who is paying $2500 to $5000 for a flight by charging that customer an additional $19 for WiFi. How cheap. Raise the ticket price by $19 but don't separately charge me. This is a fundamental shortcoming in AA management's thinking.

    2. Sam Guest

      Same reason they have the hardware installed & still charge, in spite of B6 giving it away. They're not leaders. They will wait until DL does & they will follow because they will have to to keep the biz $. Meanwhile, we get nickled & dimed for as long as possible. They forget that customers wont forget.

    3. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Meh, that's nowhere near as disgusting as BA letting you pay 4-5figures for a J seat, then charging you $250+ on top of it for a seat assignment!

  6. George Romey Guest

    My concern is bandwidth/speed with American. The wifi in the ACs is pathetic. As soon as the club gets half full the wifi becomes problematic and forget about doing something like a Zoom call. It's gotten to the point that I travel with a portable hotspot.

    What good is wifi that you can't get to work.

    1. XPL Diamond

      If I need to get work done, then of course I'll have my own paid means for getting networking. I'm not going to put my employment at risk because I was too cheap to spend a few coins on a temporary data plan.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Barry Graham Guest

If it doesn't degrade service it's a good thing. If it does. I hope there will be ways to pay to get acceptable service consistently.

0
XPL Diamond

If I need to get work done, then of course I'll have my own paid means for getting networking. I'm not going to put my employment at risk because I was too cheap to spend a few coins on a temporary data plan.

0
ConcordeBoy Diamond

Meh, that's nowhere near as disgusting as BA letting you pay 4-5figures for a J seat, then charging you $250+ on top of it for a seat assignment!

0
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