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

Jan 5, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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.

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 photo by Patrick T. Fallon/The Points Guy.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.