Delta Air Lines officially began offering free inflight Wi-Fi on most domestic flights on Feb. 1, finally delivering on a promise its CEO first made more than four years ago.
“Wi-Fi will be free on Delta across our entire company. It's going to be free, it's going to be fast, and it's going to be available for everyone,” Delta CEO Bastian announced during a speech at the massive consumer electronics trade show CES in Las Vegas in January. “It doesn't matter what price you paid for your seat.”
Most, but not all, domestic flights will have free Wi-Fi available onboard. Delta is still working to outfit its entire domestic fleet with the technology. By the end of 2023, the airline said travelers should have access to free high-speed internet on every domestic flight and Delta plans to expand the service to international and regional aircraft by the end of 2024.
The move is a long time coming for Delta and gives them an edge with customers over their closest rivals. To date, Delta is the first big four U.S. airlines to offer free Wi-Fi to all and only the second U.S. carrier to do so.
Read on for everything we know about Delta's new, free inflight Wi-Fi service.
Free Wi-Fi Available On All Delta Flights By The End Of 2024
Wi-Fi won't be free on every Delta flight to start: Bastian said about 80% of Delta domestic flights are currently equipped with the right equipment to offer free high-speed internet out of the gates. From there, he said the airline will continue expanding free Wi-Fi to the rest of its domestic mainline fleet. And by the end of 2024, the airline plans to offer Wi-Fi on both long-haul international routes on widebody planes as well as Delta Connection flights operated by smaller, regional partner carriers.
Access Free Wi-Fi Through Delta SkyMiles Account
Anyone with a Delta SkyMiles account will be able to log in and get online for free. There will be no limits to how many devices travelers can connect, Bastian said, meaning you can get online with a laptop and phone simultaneously or even log in to get your children online.
By offering free Wi-Fi only to those with a SkyMiles account rather than absolutely anyone onboard, Delta can capture consumer information and deepen ties with flyers, targeting them with promotions or even convincing them to sign up for an American Express Delta SkyMiles card. Travelers who don't already have a SkyMiles account can sign up inflight, then get online free within a matter of minutes.
First of The Big Four to Offer Free Wi-Fi
Delta is the first of the big four U.S. airlines – a group that also includes American, Southwest, and United – to offer free Wi-Fi to all, but it's not the first U.S. carrier to do so. That distinction goes to JetBlue, which has offered free gate-to-gate Wi-Fi for its passengers for many years.
It won't be long, however, before more airlines get in the free Wi-Fi game. American and Southwest have both trialed free inflight Wi-Fi recently, and Hawaiian Airlines has said it plans to launch free high-speed internet access on select transpacific flights through SpaceX's Starlink service sometime later this year.
Introducing Delta Sync
The Atlanta-based airline also unveiled what it calls “Delta Sync,” a new platform for all things Delta inflight, with personalized entertainment recommendations, the ability to order food and drinks from your seat, and more. Delta Sync will eventually include entertainment options including games like Wordle from the New York Times as well as Paramount Plus.
Delta's Long-Awaited Free Wi-Fi Plan
This announcement had been building for months after several rounds of progressive testing and an internal memo published by Thrifty Traveler this past summer laying out its plans to launch “soon.” We tried out Delta's free Wi-Fi and found that speeds kept up enough to easily stream YouTube and download or even upload photos.
Almost every airline in the country has doubled down on inflight connectivity coming out of the pandemic, but none has gone further than Delta.
Bastian first set this in motion way back in October 2018, musing aloud: “I don’t know of anywhere else, besides in an airplane, that you can’t get free Wi-Fi.” But that lofty goal quickly collided with the realities of offering internet to 150-plus passengers in a metal tube, as initial tests led to cratering speeds, and even unusable Wi-Fi.
Those issues eventually forced Delta to end its exclusive relationship with Wi-Fi provider GoGo and bring Viasat onboard, equipping more and more of its domestic fleet with that technology over the last two years in the pursuit of free Wi-Fi.
“It's been so important to us … that over the last five years, we've invested over $1 billion to create this. This is not easy to do,” Bastian said.
The Atlanta-based airline previously vowed to outfit the vast majority of its domestic fleet with upgraded Viasat Wi-Fi by the end of 2022. That includes most of its Airbus A320s (from the tiny Airbus A319s to the brand new deliveries of A321neos), most Boeing 737s (especially the 737-900ER), and even some of Delta's Airbus A220-300s and Boeing 757-200s.
Fortunately, Delta makes it simple to confirm whether or not your flight will have free Wi-Fi onboard: Just look for the “Fast Streaming Wi-Fi” badge on each flight during the booking process. It's a safe bet that these aircraft are equipped with the new Viasat technology that makes this possible.
You can also look for a decal located near the boarding door of the aircraft that should tell you if you have free Wi-Fi available on your flight. If you see the decal, you should be able to get online for free.
Delta is officially launching its free inflight Wi-Fi service for nearly all passengers, but it won't be available on every flight right away.
By the end of 2023, travelers should have access to free Wi-Fi on every domestic flight and Delta plans to expand the service to international and regional aircraft by the end of 2024.