Delta Has Finally Revealed a Launch Date for Free WiFi
For the first time since 2019, I’m not in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year. So, naturally, this installment is shaping up to be one of the more interesting editions for someone like me as Disney is showing off their “Hey Disney” system and FinTech seems to be a larger focus.
On top of that, Delta returned to the show this year to make some announcements. I actually got to see a few of the technologies Delta was working on… in January 2020. Needless to say, some of those got derailed or delayed. But now, at long last, Delta is ready to launch something they’ve been promising for some time: free WiFi for all!
Beginning February 1st, free WiFi will be offered on “most domestic mainline flights.” Specifically, by the end of this year, Delta anticipates having more than 700 Viasat-equipped aircraft and will also offer free WiFi on international and regional aircraft by the end of 2024. Incidentally, the roll-out of free WiFi is said to be in partnership with T-Mobile. What’s interesting about this is that many T-Mobile customers already enjoy free WiFi on Delta flights (at least on their smartphones).
One minor catch is that, in order to access free WiFi, passengers will need to have a SkyMiles account. That’s not a big deal for people like me who already have accounts, but I could see some people being annoyed by this requirement. Personally, I’d recommend that customers set up their SkyMiles account when booking their flight so that they can not only earn miles for their flight but also save themselves time trying to create one on board in a bid to access the internet.
The free WiFi will also power some new offerings, which are rolling out under the Delta Sync banner. For example, passengers will be able to stream content from Paramount+ while connected to WiFi onboard. Meanwhile, another feature of Delta Sync will be “curated American Express Card offers” — so I guess that’s something to keep an eye out for this spring.
It’s hard to say that this development is anything other than a win for Delta flyers as the WiFi will apparently be faster and more reliable than GoGo in addition to being, well, free. At the same time, “free” is a complicated concept as Delta’s fares aren’t typically the cheapest — so really the WiFi is just another amenity bundled into the premium you pay. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to this rollout and hope that other carriers will follow suit in the near future.