The reason Delta doesn’t have free Wi-Fi yet? Tech limits, CEO says

Sep 18, 2019

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Delta Air Lines has long promised the days of unlimited free Wi-Fi are coming for its passengers, but according to its CEO, the company isn’t quite ready to roll it out.

“It is really just a question of technical (features). It is not economics. I am nervous that if we turned it on, it’s going to cause system outages,” Ed Bastian said at the Skift Forum in New York on Wednesday.

The airline tested unlimited free Wi-Fi on select flights in May, but Bastian said the results weren’t as promising as he’d hoped.

Related: 5 Things You Need to Know About Delta SkyMiles

Wi-Fi provider Gogo has significantly improved its reliability, Bastian said at the forum, but added it still doesn’t work as intended under heavy usage. The airline found in tests that when Wi-Fi is free, passengers may connect as many as three devices each on a long flight.

But, Bastian said, the goal is still for free Wi-Fi to be available to all Delta passengers in the near future.

For comparison, JetBlue already offers free high-speed Wi-Fi on its flights, but that service is provided by Viasat. JetBlue may also have fewer technical limitations, as it only flies within the Americas and not (yet) on long trans-oceanic routes. For more information on inflight Wi-Fi, you can check out our evaluation of who has the best Wi-Fi among US airlines.

Featured photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy.

Related: Snapshot: A Look at Delta Air Lines by the Numbers


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