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Staying connected to friends and family at cruising altitude used to be a pipe dream. Now, thanks to services such as Gogo and Viasat, having a live internet connection while flying has become the new normal. While JetBlue is the only domestic airline to offer free Wi-Fi, Delta is moving in that direction. In the meantime, a number of carriers do offer free inflight messaging.
Typically this allows you to connect your smartphone to the inflight network, where data-based messaging services like iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are granted access at no charge. Below, we’ll cover which airlines offer the service, and any notable limitations.
Note that even on airlines where free inflight messaging is offered, you’ll need to board an aircraft that has the proper equipment to deliver inflight Wi-Fi. You can learn more by reading our guide to the best US carriers for inflight Wi-Fi.
Airlines offering free inflight messaging:
- Air France
- Alitalia (free for Magnifica or Premium Economy class)
- China Eastern (registration required prior to flight)
- Delta Air Lines
- Emirates (only the first 20MB are free)
- Nok Air
- Norwegian Air
- Philippine Airlines (free for first 15 minutes or 5MB)
- SAS (free in SAS Business, SAS Plus; free in SAS Go for EuroBonus Gold and Diamond members)
- Singapore Airlines (Suites, First and Business Class passengers and PPS Club members can enjoy one complimentary Wi-Fi session per flight sector)
- TAP Portugal
- Turkish Airlines (free for business class and Miles & Smiles Elite/Elite Plus passengers)
- Virgin Australia (free Standard Package on domestic flights)
- Xiamen Air (registration required prior to flight)
Even if you end up on a carrier that doesn’t offer free messaging, a multitude of credit cards enable free inflight Wi-Fi.
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Featured photo by Darren Murph/TPG.
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