Delta’s promise to offer free Wi-FI on all flights is getting one step closer to reality.
This week, the Atlanta-based carrier introduced free internet access for all SkyMiles members on select planes. To enjoy free internet access, all you need to do is enter your SkyMiles number and password upon landing at deltawifi.com.
Once you’ve logged in, you’ll be connected to the internet without any payment or monthly pass required. This free Wi-Fi package supports streaming speeds, so you can enjoy your favorite content on the fly.
Delta confirmed to TPG that this offer is part of ongoing testing of its new Wi-Fi system. “We are currently testing Wi-Fi infrastructure with various offerings for select customers on select routes. Customers will be notified if they have this option on their flight,” Delta’s statement read.
For now, the test appears to be limited to select aircraft that are equipped with the new, faster viasat satellite-based connectivity, which is expected to be installed on a vast majority of Delta’s mainline fleet by the end of the year.
Currently, Viasat antennas are installed on many new and refurbished Airbus A321, Boeing 737-900ER and Boeing 757-200.
As part of this new offer, you can enjoy free internet access even if you are not yet a SkyMiles member. Simply sign up from the Wi-Fi landing page, and you’ll be connected to the internet just minutes later. If you’d rather not enroll in Delta’s loyalty program, you can instead connect to the system for a flat $5 fee per device, regardless of flight distance.
Extending the free Wi-Fi trial to all SkyMiles members comes just weeks after Delta began offering free internet to Medallion elite members on Viasat-equipped planes.
That test was apparently successful, and now Delta is ready to expand free internet access to more flyers as it stress tests the new hardware.
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“We want Wi-Fi to be exactly the same for you at 35,000 feet up as it is on the ground for our customers. And it’s complex to do, but we’re actively testing it now and it’s working,” said Allison Ausband, Delta’s chief customer experience officer, at the Skift Aviation Forum in Dallas on Wednesday.
In early 2019, Delta CEO Ed Bastian shared a goal to “make Wi-Fi free with high-speed quality.” Pandemic delays aside, it seems the airline is finally ready to deliver on this promise.
While there’s no timeline yet for when Delta will officially flip the switch on free Wi-Fi, the airline plans to do so “soon” for domestic flights, with international expansion planned for late 2024, according to an internal Delta memo that leaked this summer.
As Delta inches closer to free in-flight Wi-Fi, its competitors are also investing in better in-flight internet solutions (but none have promised to make Wi-Fi free).
Alaska Airlines and United Airlines recently debuted $8 flat-rate pricing for Wi-Fi, and the latter airline has even promised to install Viasat connectivity on all new and refurbished domestic jets.
Ultra-low-cost airline Spirit Airlines recently shared that its Wi-Fi rollout is now formally complete, while Southwest Airlines recently announced that it is adding a new internet provider (Viasat) and upgrading its existing one (Anuvu) across its fleet of Boeing 737s. .
Even as Delta moves closer to its big WiFi goal, it’s worth noting that JetBlue Airways continues to be the market leader in in-flight connectivity. The New York carrier continues to offer free gateway Wi-Fi with no speed caps or device restrictions.