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Delta trials free Wi-Fi for elites as it inches closer to complimentary internet on all flights

Nov. 02, 2022
4 min read
Delta trials free Wi-Fi for elites as it inches closer to complimentary internet on all flights
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Delta Air Lines' elite members may be in for a holiday treat the next time they fly with the carrier.

That's because the Atlanta-based carrier is trialing a new free Wi-Fi offering for Medallion members on select aircraft. Elite flyers can now log on to the Deltawifi.com portal and see if their flight features complimentary internet access.

If it does, all you need to do is enter your SkyMiles number and password, and you'll then be connected to the internet — no day passes or monthly subscriptions required.

DELTA VIASAT WI-FI SPEEDTEST. COURTESY SPEEDTEST.NET

This new offering launched earlier this week and is part of a broader test to see how Delta's Wi-Fi networks can handle additional traffic. A Delta spokesperson confirmed that this test had launched, but they declined to share additional details about the offering or what it means about the future of fleet-wide free Wi-Fi (something Delta teased back in early 2019).

For now, it appears that this free Wi-Fi package for elite members is limited to planes that feature the airline's new, speedier Viasat satellite-based connectivity, which is expected to be installed on a vast majority of the mainline fleet by the end of the year.

So far, many new and retrofitted Airbus A321s, Boeing 737-900ERs and Boeing 757-200s feature upgraded satellite connectivity.

While elite members traveling on one of these jets may score free Wi-Fi, those who aren't Delta loyalists can connect to the system for a flat $5 fee per device, regardless of flight distance.

This latest test is seemingly designed to help Delta collect data on usage patterns and network stability as more flyers connect to onboard access points during the flight.

In early 2019, Delta CEO Ed Bastian shared a goal to "make Wi-Fi free with high-speed quality." Pandemic delays aside, it appears that the airline is finally gearing up in its attempt to deliver on this promise.

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ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

This summer, the airline announced plans internally to roll out complimentary Wi-Fi on all domestic flights "soon," with an expansion to international routes expected by the end of 2024, per an internal Delta memo.

At the time, Delta's managing director of brand experience, Ekrem Dimbiloglu, shared in a statement that these tests are another step on the journey to actualizing Bastian's vision for free onboard Wi-Fi.

"While we are significantly closer to delivering fast, reliable and Free Wi-Fi onboard, it’s important we apply our innovation DNA to test, learn and scale intentionally to deliver the unparalleled experience our customers expect from Delta," Dimbiloglu said.

While Delta is getting closer to launching free Wi-Fi for everyone, it's worth noting that JetBlue Airways is still the market leader in onboard connectivity. The New York-based carrier has famously offered free gate-to-gate Wi-Fi for years with no speed caps or device restrictions.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Delta's competitors have also been busy upgrading their inflight connectivity offerings recently, though none have publicly committed to making Wi-Fi free. Alaska Airlines and United Airlines recently debuted $8 flat-fee pricing for Wi-Fi, while American Airlines recently launched (and extended) a free internet trial aboard its Viasat-equipped jets.

Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines recently announced that it's adding a new internet provider (Viasat) and upgrading its existing one (Anuvu) across its fleet of Boeing 737s.

Even ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines recently shared that its Wi-Fi rollout is now complete. But, in stark contrast to Delta and JetBlue, it is now charging higher prices for onboard internet access than it did during the pilot period.

Featured image by Zach Griff/The Points Guy
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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  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
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