On Tuesday, Delta Air Lines announced that it would adding a new inflight WiFi provider, Viasat, and launching a new Delta WiFi access portal with a new interface, as it continues to take steps to improve its customer experience even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The switch will be made during the summer, with Viasat installation coinciding with the delivery of new aircraft to the Delta fleet as it continues to pair the right WiFi provider (Delta’s previous provider was Gogo) with the right aircraft.
While Delta said that the move would improve customer experience inflight with higher speed and better capability onboard, including better streaming and more personalized content in the in-flight entertainment options, it also continues Delta’s mission of delivering free WiFi in the future. Something that is now becoming a very real possibility for the carrier.
“We are committed to delivering Free WiFi in the future, and this is a significant step on that journey,” Ekrem Dimbiloglu, Delta’s director of brand experience for in-flight entertainment said in a Q&A announcing the news.
Delta had been looking toward a future of free inflight WiFi for a while now. Delta CEO Ed Bastion specifically mentioned the possibility during his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last year, explaining that Delta was looking at the possibility of offering it sometime over the next couple of years.
Delta had also teased the offering with a two-week testing program that it launched in May 2019, a program that saw around 55 domestic flights operate with free WiFi to test capabilities onboard.
Now, with the new Viasat system, Delta will look to continue working toward that goal. The carrier said it will continue to test how it can best adopt to free WiFi flights—Dimbiloglu, in the Q&A, said that “delivering Free WiFi that is high-quality and streaming capable requires thorough testing to ensure our technology can handle the demand.”
But Delta’s “vision for the future of travel will not come to life overnight.” The carrier expects the move to take time, with the process from approvals to testing to implementation often taking several months.
Delta said it has even more plans in development and will share details soon.