As early as late 2018, Delta Airlines’ CEO Ed Bastian said they were working hard to offer free in-flight Wi-Fi to all of its passengers.
“I don’t know of anywhere else, besides in an airplane, that you can’t get free Wi-Fi,” Bastian had said to the audience at the 2018 Skift Global Forum in NY. “We’re going to make it free.”
It’s been over 5 years since Bastian said those faithful words and yes, Delta has apparently been working on a way to offer high-speed Wi-Fi to its passengers – for free (remember, right now, of the U.S. airlines, only JetBlue offers it for free. All the others – including Delta, so far – charge varying amounts (per hour, per month, per device, whatever).
Delta is now partnering with two Wi-Fi providers: Viasat and Intelsat. And as of early November, 2022, they offered free in-flight Wi-Fi to Skymiles Medallion elite members on most domestic mainline flights. That was good news!
Two weeks later, the news got even better – Delta had started offering free high-speed Wi-Fi to ALL SkyMiles members, on select flights. Well heck, if there was ever yet another reason to sign up for airline frequent flyer programs, this was definitely it!
It’s been several weeks since all Skymiles members could get free Wi-Fi on select flights, so have things changed? Apparently not.
A friend of ours, Jeremiah G., flew from Orlando to Albuquerque (full disclosure – I STILL had to look that up. I can spell Czechoslovakia [for all the good THAT will do me], but not Albuquerque) earlier this week to visit with family. He’s got Gold Medallion status on Delta.
Jeremiah said he was offered free Wi-Fi on his flight from MCO to ATL. The flight attendants mentioned it in one of their spiels, and the option was on his phone:
The invitation specifies that the free Wi-Fi is fast-streaming and is only for SkyMiles members (but also gives you the option to join SkyMiles right there and then, and then POOF, you’re a member!), You also have the option to buy a $5 flight pass.
However, on his flight from ALT to ABQ, he got no such offer. Chances are that goes back to Delta not being finished supplying its planes with the new hardware/software required for them to offer high-speed Wi-Fi access.
So if you’re trying to figure out ahead of time if YOUR flight will have free Wi-Fi:
- His MCO-ATL flight (which did offer free Wi-Fi) was on a Boeing 757-200
- His ATL-ABQ flight (which did not) was on an Airbus 321
His flights home were on the same types of planes and his ability to have free internet…or not…were exactly the same (ABQ to ATL did not offer free Wi-Fi, but ATL to MCO did).
Of course, that doesn’t mean ALL of Delta’s Boeing 757s will have free Wi-Fi, or that ALL of their A321s won’t. But it’s a start.
Delta plans to offer complimentary Wi-Fi on nearly all domestic flights by late 2023, and will expand it to be included on most international flights by the end of 2024.
*** Many thanks to Jeremiah G., from Laughing Place, for giving us this update!
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