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Putting Delta’s new blazing-fast inflight Wi-Fi to the test

Oct. 15, 2021
4 min read
Putting Delta’s new blazing-fast inflight Wi-Fi to the test
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In early 2019, Delta CEO Ed Bastian committed to adding fast and free Wi-Fi on all its flights within a year or two.

Though the pandemic has delayed that timeline, the airline is still committed to its mission to make inflight internet access free for all.

Earlier this year, the airline broke ties with Gogo and instead partnered up with Viasat to bring the provider’s latest satellite connectivity to more than 300 domestic jets this year. Viasat’s superior satellite network should offer enough bandwidth for Bastian to deliver on his goal.

This summer, the airline began adding Viasat-connected radomes to the top of its new and retrofitted Airbus A321s, Boeing 737-900ERs and Boeing 757-200s, with plans to outfit nearly all of its domestic fleet by the end of 2022.

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Though I’ve flown Delta a few times this summer, Tuesday marked my first experience with Delta’s new Wi-Fi solution. I was flying from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to the carrier’s Atlanta mega-hub, and I lucked out with one of the Viasat-connected Airbus A321s.

As I boarded the 191-seat jet, I immediately caught sight of a new decal just a few rows below the TPG logo that’s to the right of the exit door.

“Faster streaming awaits” it read.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Though I had originally planned to catch some sleep on the 7:20 a.m. flight, the techie inside of me couldn’t resist the opportunity to put Delta’s latest Wi-Fi solution to the test.

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Once we were airborne, I immediately connected to the DeltaWifi.com network.

The first thing that impressed me was the price: all Viasat-equipped planes offer a $5 full-flight pass or a free messaging option, no matter the destination. Of course, that's not completely free as Bastian promised, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.

(Screenshot courtesy of Delta)

(The one big downside, however, is the carrier’s previous tie-up with T-Mobile that used to offer free Wi-Fi to its subscribers is officially gone.)

After quickly entering my credit card information and agreeing to the Viasat terms and conditions, I was online.

To test the connectivity, I performed four tests:

  • A speedtest.net test
  • A fast.com test
  • A 10-minute streaming session on Netflix
  • A 100MB download

The new Wi-Fi system passed my four tests with flying colors. I nearly gasped when I saw the results of my first experiment on speedtest.com: Over 60 Mbps download was quite impressive.

(Screenshot courtesy of Speedtest.net)

Fast.com is another internet speed test service that’s routed through Netflix’s servers. I figured that there was a chance that Viasat throttled the streaming connection, and I could use Fast.com to validate my hypothesis.

Turns out, I was correct, at least based on my limited sample. Download speeds slowed down considerably to just over 2 Mbps. Not great, but still fast enough to stream.

(Screenshot courtesy of Fast.com)

So then I pulled up Netflix. After an initial 10-second buffer, the remainder of my show streamed perfectly, with no lag in video or audio.

And finally, I decided to test how long the connection would take to download a 100 MB test file from fastest.fish. The result? Under 30 seconds.

(Screenshot courtesy of Google)

With speeds that fast, I was impressed. Of course, network conditions are going to change depending on how many people are connected to the service, weather and other outside factors.

But on this Tuesday morning, it was clear that Delta’s Viasat tie-up is poised to change the inflight connectivity game. While Wi-Fi isn’t yet free, the move to Viasat is clearly a step in the right direction. Plus, when the provider launches ViaSat-3, the company’s next-generation satellite network, things figure to only get better.

Before long, we might all be streaming our favorite shows and movies, while loading multiple tabs and uploading photos to social media — all from the air… for free.

Featured image by (Photo 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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  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
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  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
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  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
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

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • 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.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees