Delta wants its inflight WiFi to be fast and free

Delta is set to become the first of America's 'big three' airlines to roll out fast and free WiFi on domestic flights.

By David Flynn, September 24 2019
Delta wants its inflight WiFi to be fast and free

Delta Air Lines aims to offer free WiFi on all flights, in a game-changing move which could put pressure on arch-rivals American Airlines and United to unshackle their inflight Internet services.

“We’re working on it... you will have it soon” teased Delta CEO Ed Bastian at the Skift Forum travel industry conference in New York last week.

Central to that 'experience' is to ensure Delta's inflight WiFi is not only free but fast, rather than see a plane-load of passengers creating a log-jam for the limited bandwidth available.

To that end, Bastian says the airline is working to increase on-board WiFi bandwidth based trials of free high-speed WiFi on selected domestic flights which began in May 2020, although this delivered mixed results and often sluggish speeds.

“We learned a lot,” Bastian said about that trial. "There were some things we found out that we hoped not to find out, in terms of the work needed until we can go for free."

What it all boils down to, Bastian related, is not economics but technology: specifically, having enough bandwidth to each aircraft to handle every passenger and meet their expectations.

The US carrier and Virgin Australia partner currently has WiFi installed across most of its fleet, with about 60% of those featuring a high-speed 2Ku satellite service with technology partner Gogo – a system capable of serving up 15Mbps to each device.

While Delta currently charges upwards of US$16 for a single-day WiFi pass, Bastian wants to ensure that when the price tag is removed those streaming-friendly  broadband speeds will remain.

“We’re not there yet, but Gogo and Delta, working together, have dramatically improved the overall performance of Wi-Fi on our planes,” Bastion said.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


25 Sep 2019

Total posts 1

I've been one of the monthly NoGo payers almost free m Delta's first start around 2009 - 2010 and outside of the occasional 'good' and rare 'excellent' experience the service has generally gotten worse vs better, particularly in the past half dozen years. I would have long been dead now if I would have held my breath on even a fleet-wide Delta + NoGo 2Ku rollout that's started around five years ago. Those equipped planes may be a mainstay on the more DL lucrative DeltaOne Transcontinental US and European and Asian flights, but they're not even 50% of the US - US flts that I'm on.

I hadn't even mentioned yet the abysmal continual authentication server problems or lack of coverage at all on a given flight. I find it laughable when I make the regular call to NoGo to ask for a refund for the latest service outage and they always act all surprised that such a thing could ever happen. On those same flights I'll try a couple different devices to verify 'it's not me', as well as do an unscientific look around at my fellow travelers, and when I see them try a couple times and put their phone or tablet away it's very clear NoGo has earned it's name yet again.

It's 'funny' though at on some flights you can't get anywhere useful because vthe authentication is broken yet again but you are sure allowed right through to buy crap, as in those cases one can always get to Delta and Amazon.

I've brought up DiffServe to NoGo for years but that falls on deaf ears. Maybe the SAA (Seamless Airline Alliance) will get of the ground and bring to the air what the TelCo 'unbundling' did starting vin the mid-90's, then one would have a true choice in the air over time.

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

11 Sep 2015

Total posts 9

Don't you mean testing started in May 2019? not May 2020?

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