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Delta’s CEO Promises Free In-Flight Wi-Fi for All

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Delta is planning to make its in-flight Wi-Fi free for all passengers, CEO Ed Bastian told a forum last week. Bastian didn’t lay out a specific timeline for switching Wi-Fi on for free, according to Forbes. However, his comments made clear that it’s in the works.

“I don’t know of anywhere else, besides in an airplane, that you can’t get free Wi-Fi,” Bastian said. “We’re going to make it free.”

Delta is already ahead of the competition when it comes to keeping passengers connected. More than 95 percent of its seats have Wi-Fi access, leaving just some small, 50-seat regional jets without it. That’s more like 90 percent for United and 85 percent on American, according to a 2018 Routehappy report.

And all of Delta’s long-haul aircraft have been Wi-Fi equipped, meaning there’s internet access on all international journeys. Of course, Wi-Fi service is more likely to be spotty on those long journeys.

JetBlue already offers free gate to gate Wi-Fi for its passengers. Though Delta’s fleet is much larger, and the prospect of free Wi-Fi on even long international flights is promising.

Airlines are increasingly focusing on expanding and improving in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity, all while pulling out seatback entertainment. Delta has decided to do both – installing in-flight entertainment screens on more aircraft, new and old.


Our Analysis

Delta gets a lot of hate, mostly for its frustrating – yet often misunderstood – SkyMiles program. But there’s no doubt in our minds that they offer the best in-flight experience out of the major domestic airlines.

We’re not banking on free in-flight Wi-Fi yet, as Delta hasn’t set a date. However, Bastian’s commitment just reinforces the fact that Delta often leads the pack when it comes to improving the customer experience.

Both United and American are trying to keep up on the Wi-Fi connectivity front. And given the intense competition between these big three airlines, it will be interesting to see if United or American follow Delta’s lead and make Wi-Fi free, too.


Bottom Line

It’s not a done deal yet, but Delta’s promise to make in-flight Wi-Fi free is a big one. We’re anxious to see if and when Bastian follows through with his commitment.


Lead Photo credit of Chris Lundberg via Flickr

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1 Responses

  • OK – so WiFi is on the plane anyway i.e. they have already invested in the equipment so the incremental cost to Delta is really low. Compare that to the $$$$ they are making charging more for bags and more for economy seats etc. This is just good marketing.

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