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Last year was big for airlines and internet connectivity: 82 airlines now have some sort of in-flight internet, a 17% increase from the 70 that offered the service in 2016.
Now, thanks to Routehappy’s 2018 Wi-Fi Report, we know which airlines you can expect the best in-flight Wi-Fi from this year as well.
To collect their data, the digital flight shopping firm measured Wi-Fi connectivity in Available Seat Miles, or ASMs, a method calculated by multiplying the number of seats available by the number of miles flown.
Delta took the top spot in Routehappy’s report for total ASMs, with American, Emirates and United close behind. The US is far ahead of its international counterparts — US carriers offer Wi-Fi on 85% of ASMs, while outside the US you only have a 32% chance of being connected. Still, it’s an improvement for ASMs outside the US, which was just 14% in 2016.
Just because airlines have a high total ASM score doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to find Wi-Fi on one of their flights. Only Icelandair, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic and JetBlue have 100% of their aircraft outfitted with Wi-Fi. (JetBlue warns that its Fly-Fi service is available only over the contiguous US.)
And if you want to make sure you’re connected on a long-haul flight, you’ll want to go with one of the 13 airlines that offer Wi-Fi on 100% of their long-haul flights: Air Europa, Delta, Emirates, Etihad, Eurowings, EVA Air, Iberia, Kuwait, Lufthansa, SAS, Scoot, United and Virgin Atlantic.
Routehappy says that Wi-Fi is becoming a necessity to compete in the air travel market. Small, obscure carriers like Air Astana from Kazakhstan, Air Côte d’Ivoire from Ivory Coast and Air Mauritius from Mauritius have all started to offer internet on their flights in an effort to put themselves on the same level as bigger airlines.
Carriers are upgrading their current Wi-Fi technology thanks to aircraft coming straight from the factory with internet routers installed. The newer technology means Wi-Fi speeds are improving, too. Basic Wi-Fi systems that provide just enough speed for web browsing have dropped from 43% to 27% of ASMs in 2017. You’ll find Wi-Fi with speeds strong enough to complete real web browsing and limited media streaming at 57% of ASMs worldwide, while 16% of ASMs offer top-notch wi-fi, which allows video streaming and speeds comparable to a home connection.
Unfortunately, only eight carriers like JetBlue and Norwegian offer Wi-Fi for free. But if you’re an American Express Business Platinum cardholder you’ll receive 10 complimentary Go-Go in-flight Wi-Fi passes, which can be used on carriers like American, Alaska, Delta and United.
This story has been amended to show that JetBlue has Wi-Fi installed on its entire fleet, but connectivity is only available over the contiguous US.
Photo by Hero Images / Getty Images.
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