How to save on inflight Wi-Fi for your next trip

Nov 24, 2020

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Staying connected while soaring through the skies has become essential to an increasing number of passengers. While we sometimes have to put up with some terrible Wi-Fi speeds, most U.S.-based airlines are soaring ahead with high-speed internet.

If you need to stay connected, you’re going to want to consider your options before boarding the plane. You can save money by planning ahead and getting Wi-Fi passes before the flight — whether that’s by subscribing to a monthly plan, buying day passes ahead of time or having the right credit card.

Today we’ll take a close look at these options to keep some money in your pocket for your next flight.

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In This Post

Monthly passes

If you’re a frequent flyer who needs to stay connected, purchasing a monthly pass is likely the way to go. However, it’s worth noting right now that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, monthly plans may be harder to justify due to reduced schedules by all airlines.  Business travelers will want to verify an airline has enough flights operating on the routes you need to justify the monthly expense.  If you only fly with one airline, you can subscribe to an American, Alaska or Delta monthly plan for $49.95/month for one device. Delta also offers a two-device plan for $59.95/month.  Alaska and Delta both offer plans through Gogo.

Screenshot courtesy of Gogo

Due to a recent change, American Airlines is now selling its monthly plans exclusively on its website.  They are the same price ($49.95) per month as Alaska and Delta.  And, now those monthly passes work with all three systems you’ll find on American Airlines.  There are a variety of planes that feature Gogo, Panasonic and Viasat, all of which are under the umbrella of these new monthly plans.

Related: Credit cards that offer free and discounted inflight Wi-Fi

Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines

Day passes

If you don’t travel enough to justify a monthly pass, you can still save money by planning ahead. If you’re flying on a Gogo-equipped aircraft (with the exception of American Airlines), you don’t want to wait to get on board before figuring out how you’re going to connect. Gogo’s onboard prices can easily reach $30 for a flight, or $40 for a day pass. Rather than shelling out $30+ on board, you can prepurchase passes online.  As noted above, American Airlines now sells all Wi-Fi passes directly on its website (or onboard).

While the $7 one-hour pass probably isn’t going to save you enough to justify the hassle, prepurchasing day passes is where you can move the needle. You can pick up an all-day pass through Gogo’s website for $19 each that’s good on Air Canada, Alaska, Delta or United.

These passes get you access for up to 24 hours, but access is limited to coverage in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Also, the pass is only good on just one airline. That’s to say you can’t use the same pass on Delta and then later that day on United.

Screenshot courtesy of Gogo

And if you’re flying on Delta, you can get 24 hours of continuous access on any Gogo-equipped flight — even if that’s outside the U.S., Canada and Mexico — through the Global Day Pass for $28 each.

These full-day passes are ideal if you’re on a connecting itinerary with a single airline, as the cost of two flight passes can easily exceed a single, 24-hour pass.

Free access

The easiest way of getting free Wi-Fi when you take to the skies is by flying JetBlue, as the airline doesn’t charge for its “Fly-Fi” satellite-based Wi-Fi access. And soon, Delta may match JetBlue by offering free internet access.

T-Mobile customers can get an hour of free data and unlimited texting through the cellphone provider’s partnership with Gogo. Access is available on Gogo-equipped flights on Alaska, American Airlines and Delta. Here’s the step-by-step guide on how to connect to use this benefit.

If you have certain credit cards, including the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card, you can also get free day passes.

American Airlines passengers have a bunch of options for getting Wi-Fi free. The Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard features a perk offering up to $25 of statement credits toward Wi-Fi purchases on AA flights, while AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite Mastercard cardholders get up to $50 in statement credits per year. If you exhaust all of these options, you can get a 25% discount on Wi-Fi purchases made on the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®.

The information for the  U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve, Barclaycard Aviator Red, CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

United flyers can get a similar 25% discount on Wi-Fi (and other onboard purchases) through the United Explorer Card or the new United Gateway Card. MileagePlus members also have the option to redeem United miles for Wi-Fi “on select flights,” although it’s at a poor redemption rate.

Screenshot courtesy of United Airlines.

And now, Southwest fliers have a way of getting free Wi-Fi. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card offers up to 365 statement credits of $8 for Wi-Fi purchases every year, and $8 just so happens to be the amount that the airline charges for Wi-Fi access. Or, you can also connect for free on Southwest flights if you have A-List Preferred status.

Featured photo by baona/Getty Images

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