Over the years, the internet has made the leap from a novelty, to a commodity, to a basic necessity for millions of people all over the world. Folks just feel the need to stay connected, including while they’re traveling. More and more airlines are making it easier and cheaper to connect to the internet while in flight, while others have been slow to update their services or prices.
Delta Air Lines recently started to test free Wi-Fi on some of its domestic flights as part of a two-week program that it says could lead to “realizing its vision” of adding Wi-Fi to complimentary onboard experiences. While Delta’s goal may signal a sea change in the industry, right now the world of in-flight internet options is tricky.
Here’s an easy guide to help navigate:
Air Canada offers in-flight Wi-Fi for select North American, Caribbean and now international flights, so travelers can email, browse the web, and access social networks while up in the air. Travelers can check whether or not their flight will have Wi-Fi on the Air Canada website.
Air Canada uses Gogo Wi-Fi and offers 1-hour passes for $6.50 CAD, 1-way passes for $21 CAD, and a monthly access plan for $65.95 CAD.
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Most Alaska Airline flights have either in-flight internet or satellite Wi-Fi courtesy of Gogo, except for the Q400 planes, which do not have internet service. Alaska offers 1-hour passes for $7, all-day passes for $19, and monthly subscription plans for $49.95.
The airline is also in the process of upgrading to Gogo 2Ku satellite Wi-Fi service, which will let travelers stream, browse, and chat from gate departure to gate arrival. The new service made its debut in April 2018, and is expected to expand to most of the Boeing fleet (except 737-700 aircraft) and the entire Airbus fleet by the end of 2020.
According to American’s website, Wi-Fi is available on almost all routes for as little as $10 or, for frequent fliers, a monthly pass can be purchased for $49.95 per month. Travelers can check if their flight has Wi-Fi on American’s website.
American uses Gogo, Viasat, and Panasonic Wi-Fi, depending on the flight’s destination.
Delta Air Lines
Delta is one of the largest providers of in-flight Wi-Fi in the world, and with more than 1,100 enabled aircraft, Wi-Fi access is offered on nearly all of its flights. Delta uses the Gogo internet provider, and offers a variety of passes to cater to traveler’s needs, including a North American Day pass for $16, a Global Day pass for $28, a monthly North American pass for $49.95, and an annual North American pass for $599.99.
This week, Delta Air Lines started to test free WiFi on some of its domestic flights as part of a two-week program that it says could lead to “realizing its vision” of adding WiFi to complimentary onboard experiences.
The test program, which kicks off in all cabins on some of Delta’s short-, medium-, and long-haul routes, does not support content streaming but does give travelers the ability to browse, email, shop, message, and more, all free of charge. Flyers will be notified by Delta if they’re on a test flight with an email or a notification on the Fly Delta app.
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While several other airline companies have taken steps to make their in-flight internet cheaper or more accessible, JetBlue is currently the only airline to offer free Wi-Fi services on all domestic flights.
Utilizing the Fly-Fi internet provider, Wi-Fi service is available from gate to gate, meaning passengers no longer have to wait until the plane reaches a comfortable cruising altitude to connect. Instead, they are free to use their devices from the moment they board the plane.
Hawaiian Airlines doesn’t offer in-flight Wi-Fi yet, but it does allow guests seated in the Main Cabin and Extra Comfort section of its A321neo aircraft to stream inflight entertainment directly to their mobile devices.
Travelers have to download the Hawaiian Airlines App prior to boarding to have this option.
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Southwest charges travelers $8 per device for Wi-Fi, and offers it for free for their A-List Preferred members.
However, even if travelers don’t want to pay for internet, they can download the Southwest Airlines app and they’ll have access to hours of in-flight entertainment completely free, including movies, music, and even live TV (when available).
Depending on the aircraft type, United Airlines uses four different Wi-Fi providers that all provide different coverage—Gogo, Panasonic, Thales, and ViaSat. Costs range from $7 to $14 for a one-hour pass and between $19 and $29 for a full-day pass, depending on which service is offered.
United offers a subscription for its North America and Central America flights starting at $49 per month or $539 annually. United also offers a global subscription for $69 per month or $689 annually. Alternatively, United Mileage Plus members can trade miles for Wi-Fi subscriptions—North America and Central America travelers can get a monthly Wi-Fi subscription for 7,500 miles or an annual one for 80,000 miles. Global travelers can do the same for 10,500 miles for a month or 100,000 miles for a year.
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WestJet Connect is the airline’s inflight entertainment system that gives travelers with smartphones, tablets or laptops access to complimentary entertainment and flight information, as well as pay per usage internet.
The provider offers services including hundreds of hours of TV shows and movies, news, sports and entertainment articles, flight and destination information, and internet access. WestJet offers a free 15-minute trial window for its in-flight Wi-Fi, and then charges $7.99 for the remainder of the journey.