Delta Air Lines will launch its new, Viasat-powered in-flight connectivity era this weekend. The first A321ceo equipped with the Ka-band satellite connectivity gear expects to enter regular scheduled service on 1 May.
By equipping our fleet with enhanced Wi-Fi capabilities, we are taking steps to ensure we can adapt to the different ways our customers will use technology during their journey both today and in the future.– Byron Merritt – V.P. of Brand Experience
The initial install is a critical step. The flood of conversions to follow, however, is truly impressive.
Delta anticipates more than 300 planes in the domestic fleet carrying the Viasat gear by the end of 2021. The company will focus initially on fitting “remaining new A321ceos, 737-900s, and 757-200s, fleets that historically operate on routes with high customer volume.”
“Nearly all of its domestic mainline fleet” is expected to fly with the updated systems by the end of 2022.
Fast, but not free. Yet.
The new solution offers “a reliable and streaming quality connection to everyone onboard – a critical capability for Delta’s vision for the future customer experience,” according to the company.
But it still comes with a cost. Passengers on the Viasat-equipped aircraft will pay a flat rate of $8 per flight regardless of route. The free messaging option remains on offer.
All of the access is managed via the new Delta Portal Platform – the front page to the onboard experience coming later this summer to Viasat-enabled aircraft.
Delta did not provide any indication of a monthly subscription plan for the Viasat-equipped planes.
The scope of the initial install is not new. Delta highlighted those same aircraft as targets for the transition during the initial announcement in January. The timing, however, is somewhat surprising.
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PaxEx.Aero understands that N101DQ carries the Viasat gear on board today. It has been running test flights for the past couple weeks.
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