Delta Air Lines to Offer Free Wi-Fi on Most Flights Next Month

Passengers flying on Delta Air Lines will soon be able to connect to a free Wi-Fi service on most flights, beginning in February, the company said on Jan. 5.

CEO Ed Bastian announced the move at the CES technology trade show, noting that the decision to provide the free service was prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, when most flights ground to a halt.

“It’s always struck me that when we fly, we fly to connect,” Bastian told The Associated Press. “But when we’re in the sky, we disconnect.”

According to Bastian, over 500 planes will offer the free service as of Feb. 1 and more than 700 planes with the airline will have the high-speed, satellite-based broadband service from T-Mobile by the end of the year. This will be followed by an expansion of free Wi-Fi to international and Delta Connection flights by the end of 2024.

The service will use equipment from Viasat, a U.S.-based satellite broadband provider, according to the CEO, and the project will cost around $1 billion.

Currently, Delta charges almost $50 per month to customers wanting to connect to Wi-Fi on its flights within North America and $70 on international flights, according to its official website.

“People want to be connected, and the fact that airlines can’t connect in the sky is something that I felt we had to figure out,” Bastian said.

Customers wanting to use the free Wi-Fi service will have to sign up for Delta’s SkyMiles frequent-flyer program, which is free to join, and will be able to connect as many devices as they want to the in-flight Wi-Fi.

Epoch Times Photo
Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Airlines, is seen during a meeting in Dublin, Ireland, on June 2, 2016. (Paulo Nunes dos Santos/AFP via Getty Images)

Delta Partnering With T-Mobile

In a statement following the announcement, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert said: “We believe staying connected while traveling should be an easy, seamless experience. T-Mobile customers already get free in-flight Wi-Fi and now we’re partnering with Delta to bring that experience to all customers — regardless of their wireless provider — so that anyone flying Delta can enjoy online access from takeoff to touchdown.”

Delta is among the three biggest airlines in the United States, including United Airlines and American Airlines.

The company’s announcement on Thursday makes it the first of the big three to offer passengers free Wi-Fi on flights, as the other two airlines both charge passengers varying costs to use the service, although United does currently offer free Wi-Fi for T-Mobile customers on most flights.

Jet Blue has offered free high-speed Wi-Fi for all of its customers on every flight since 2017.

Bastian said in 2018 that the airliner was working on providing customers with free Wi-Fi access across all planes but needed to ensure that the connection provided was high-speed. At the time, Gogo Inflight was Delta’s official internet provider but the service was not free, and dealt with multiple complaints from customers who said it rarely worked.

Elsewhere on Thursday, Delta announced its plans for a new digital platform, Delta Sync Exclusives Hub, which will be rolled out in the spring and available to Skymiles members.

Customers will be able to access premium entertainment from Paramount+, New York Times Games, and more via the platform, according to the airline, and will be able to stream the content on their personal devices.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Katabella Roberts

Katabella Roberts is a news writer for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States, world, and business news.

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