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Staying connected while soaring through the skies has become essential to an increasing number of passengers. Wi-Fi providers and airlines are scrambling to upgrade their equipment to meet the demand. While we sometimes have to put up with some terrible Wi-Fi speeds, most US-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.
If you’re a frequent flyer who needs to stay connected, purchasing a monthly pass is likely the way to go. 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. American and Delta also offer a two-device plan for $59.95/month.
If you’re a monthly subscribers to Gogo’s American Airlines plan, you’re not just limited to connecting on AA aircraft with Gogo. If you’re on one of the hundreds of planes that have ViaSat, you can click “have a Gogo subscription?” link and log in with your Gogo credentials to access the web. That means you’ll be able to use your Gogo subscription on the 579 (and counting) AA aircraft with ViaSat as well as the ~150 AAircraft that have a Gogo connection.
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, 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 pre-purchase passes online.
While the $7 one-hour pass probably isn’t going to save you enough to justify the hassle, pre-purchasing 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 US, 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.
And if you’re flying on Delta, you can get 24 hours of continuous access on any Gogo-equipped flight on Delta — even if that’s outside the US, 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.
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 cell phone 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, you can also get free day passes. The best known of these is The Business Platinum® Card from American Express — which offers 10 complimentary, single-flight-segment passes on Gogo annually. Even better, authorized users get their own set of 10 passes.
In addition, there’s four cards that offer 12 annual passes to use on Gogo-equipped flights:
- U.S. Bank Flexperks Travel Rewards Visa Signature card
- U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card
- UBS Visa Infinite credit card
- City National Bank Crystal Visa Infinity
American Airlines passengers have a bunch of options for getting Wi-Fi free. The Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard just added 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 25% statement credit for Wi-Fi purchases made on the CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard.
United flyers can get a similar 25% discount on Wi-Fi (and other onboard purchases) through the United Explorer Card or the United TravelBank Card. MileagePlus members also have the option to redeem United miles for Wi-Fi “on select flights,” although it’s at a rate poor redemption rate.
And now, Southwest fliers have a way of getting free Wi-Fi. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card offers 365 statements 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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