Delta Air Lines is rolling out free Wi-Fi

New York

Starting February 1, Delta Air Lines is offering free Wi-Fi access on most of its planes.

“It’s going to be free, it’s going to be fast and it’s going to be available to everyone,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. He said the airline has invested more than $1 billion in Wi-Fi technology over the past few years.

To use the on-board internet, passengers will have to be a member of its free SkyMiles loyalty program. Customers who are not members will pay a flat fee of $10.

Delta’s more than 500 domestic narrowbody aircraft serving the airline’s “most popular routes” will be ready for free Wi-Fi at launch, the company said. Wide-body international and small regional jets will come online by the end of 2024.

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Customers will know if their flight has free Wi-Fi by posting a decal near the boarding door. They can also connect multiple devices at a time.

It’s been years since Thursday’s announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show. Bastion said in 2018 that offering free Wi-Fi on its fleet was a priority, but that the technology needed time to improve so that passengers did not have to deal with sluggish speeds.

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Delta currently charges approximately $50 per month for Wi-Fi on its flights within North America and $70 on international flights. It has been testing free Wi-Fi for several years, and made messaging free in 2017.

In-flight Internet on any airline has long been plagued by complaints for its inconsistent speeds. However, efforts by several satellite providers and airlines have helped the technology develop significantly over the past decade – although there is still some catching up to do when compared to home and office networks.

Delta is the first of the “Big Three” airlines to offer free Wi-Fi: United Airlines and American Airlines (AAL) both charge separate rates for access. JetBlue (JBLU) has offered free Wi-Fi since 2017.

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The airline is betting that adding free Wi-Fi could make passengers more loyal to Delta and further boost its loyalty program, which has nearly 100 million members. In October 2022, Delta partnered with Starbucks (SBUX) and began awarding 1 mile for every $1 spent at the coffee chain.

Bastian predicted that the partnership would add 1 million SkyMiles members within a year. However, Delta added 1 million new members within two weeks of its launch.


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