Delta Air Lines Could Start Offering Free Wi-Fi in Early 2023
Delta Air Line is expected to begin rolling out free wireless internet for its passengers as soon as early 2023. This has been in the works for a while now, but the launch could come much earlier that previously thought.
The Atlanta-based carrier is initially expected to offer free Wi-Fi on a significant portion of its aircraft, before expanding it through next year. The news comes from people familiar with the matter and was first reported by WSJ.
Delta Chief Executive Ed Bastian has said for years that he wants in-flight internet to be fast and free. The airline first tested free Wi-Fi on domestic flights in 2019. It then partnered with Viasat for faster and more reliable service, offering Wi-Fi on Viasat-enabled planes for a $5 flat fee in 2021.
Connecting to Wi-Fi on a flight is often expensive, even though it’s often free almost everywhere else. Now airlines see Wi-Fi as something they can advertise, especially if it’s free or very affordable.
JetBlue Airways Corp. has long offered free internet during flights, backed by corporate sponsorships. A number of other carriers have also been introducing faster, cheaper offerings, though prices and speeds can still vary widely.
Hawaiian Airlines plans to start offering free in-flight internet on its long-haul fleet next year using Starlink for example. United Airlines offers the service for a flat fee of $10, or $8 for members of its frequent-flier program on domestic U.S. flights and short-haul international trips. American Airlines has been testing free Wi-Fi for customers who watch a short ad. Southwest Airlines charges $8 a day and is upgrading its internet equipment.
Delta has apparently stepped up testing in recent months, and has been testing offers of free Wi-Fi for any members of its frequent-flier program on a number of domestic mainline routes. To access the free service, Delta passengers are expected to need to enter their SkyMiles loyalty number.