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Delta's laying the groundwork for free inflight internet with latest Wi-Fi move

Jan. 05, 2021
2 min read
Delta's laying the groundwork for free inflight internet with latest Wi-Fi move
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In early 2019, Delta CEO Ed Bastian shared a goal for the airline to offer free, fast Wi-Fi on its flights within a year or two.

Carriers have obviously had to make some adjustments following the COVID-19 pandemic, but free connectivity still seems like a top priority for Delta, with the carrier inching closer to its objective with a big shift announced today.

In a notable news release Tuesday morning, Delta detailed plans to begin a shift away from Gogo Wi-Fi to instead join forces with rival Viasat.

As part of the connectivity tweak, Delta will begin offering Viasat service on a handful of narrow-body aircraft as soon as this summer, including new and retrofitted Airbus A321s, Boeing 737-900ERs and Boeing 757-200s. As of now, more than 300 Delta planes are slated to get the Viasat boost.

For now, only a portion of Delta's fleet will get a Viasat upgrade. (Photo by Alberto Riva/TPG)

What remains unclear is whether or not the carrier's current free Wi-Fi partnership with T-Mobile will carry over to Viasat — a Delta spokesperson was unable to confirm whether or not T-Mobile customers will be able to score free Wi-Fi on Viasat-equipped planes.

JetBlue already offers free Viasat connectivity on all of its aircraft, and Viasat service can also be found on select aircraft operated by other top carriers, including American Airlines and United.

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While 300 planes represents less than half of Delta's fleet, it's likely that the airline will continue to bring more aircraft onboard as Viasat's technology evolves.

ViaSat-3, the company's next-generation satellite network, could launch as soon as this year, adding connectivity over much of the globe while offering nearly eight times more capacity — good news for anyone hoping to stream content from 30,000 feet and surf the web just as they do at home.

While we're unlikely to see Delta offer unlimited free Wi-Fi across its fleet immediately, this latest move is clearly a step in the right direction. Unlike Gogo, Viasat controls the entire experience, including the satellite network, making it possible to bring costs in line with what Delta may need in order to make inflight Wi-Fi completely free.

Featured image by Patrick T. Fallon
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023