“I’ve long held a vision that Wi-Fi should be free for all. It should be high quality Wi-Fi. It should be the caliber Wi Fi you have sitting in this room, maybe even better than this room. And Delta is here to announce that starting February the first, in just a few short weeks, that Wi Fi will be free on Delta across our entire company. We’re going to be free. It’s going to be fast, and it’s going to be available to everyone.”
With that statement, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian transformed the inflight connectivity market. Delta is not the first airline to make internet service free on board; JetBlue has offered it for nearly a decade now. But Delta is, by far, the largest to do so. And its move will likely trigger other airlines to quickly reconsider their plans.
Bastian also said there will be no fine print associated with the free offer. That’s not entirely accurate.
For starters, logging in to the system will require a SkyMiles account. Partnerships have been a strong driver in growing the company’s loyalty program and this deal will undoubtedly help boost the number of members.
Perhaps more notable, however, is that free Wi-Fi will only be available on “planes that are capable.” That covers about 80% of the domestic fleet today, according to Bastian. He does not expect truly full fleet availability until the end of 2024.
We know that those include the aircraft fitted with Viasat’s Ka-band solution. Don Buchman, VP and GM, Commercial Aviation for Viasat added, “We’re proud to support Delta’s mission to bring fast, free Wi-Fi to all SkyMiles Members. Viasat’s system – from the satellites to how we manage bandwidth — has been designed over many years to enable consistent, high-quality Wi-Fi at scale for customers like Delta, so those traveling on Viasat-equipped Delta aircraft can enjoy their favorite content — similar to how they would at home.”
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