Many of us don’t change our lifestyles when we move locations, and that’s especially true when it comes to connectivity. We want our Wi-Fi wherever we go – not just the heavy-loading Type A. Many travelers want the option of accessing Wi-Fi when — or if — they need it.
For many years, most airline and cruise ship passengers have had such Wi-Fi access – but typically at a cost. And that cost ranged from $8 to over $40 per flight. And on cruise ships, it can be even more expensive.
Now, Delta Air Lines is changing the game. The airline has been talking about providing free Wi-Fi to all passengers for several years now, but this month, Delta launches free Wi-Fi on 80% of its domestic flights and, by the end of next year, on all its regional and international aircraft.
The only requirement: join the Delta Sky Miles program, which is free.
Delta joins JetBlue, which introduced free Wi-Fi on all flights in 2017, but other airlines continue to charge for Wi-Fi. While Southwest is only around $8 per day, it’s expected to rise to $8 per flight next week. United costs just $8, but the price goes up for long domestic and international flights. American is also expensive.
And when Delta rolls out free Wi-Fi on its international flights, that will change the game, too. Many foreign carriers offer Wi-Fi, and some offer it for free with their entire fleet (Singapore Airlines), others only offer it as a courtesy to their business class passengers. But for everyone else, it starts at around $20 — and not necessarily per flight. Some charge based on usage.
Six months ago, American’s CEO argued that passengers should pay for Wi-Fi, but in light of Delta’s move, the needle could also change in terms of passenger preference, and hopefully it’s just a matter of time. . before United, American and Southwest follow suit with free Wi-Fi.
But that won’t come soon. Delta was talking about free Wi-Fi in 2018 and 2019 and then started the slow process of upgrading its planes with the systems when the aircraft underwent another scheduled maintenance. At the very least, it could easily take anywhere from 18 months to two years for United and American to recover.
Hawaiian Airlines is about to launch free inflight Wi-Fi this year. And American has started testing free Wi-Fi on select flights. Passengers who agree to watch a sponsored video or ad get 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi.
And going beyond basic email, how about streaming and video games? Right now, most of the free Wi-Fi offered limits streaming and gaming to ensure basic Wi-Fi speeds aren’t compromised.
For those traveling by sea, many cruises offer Wi-Fi as an additional package. Some offer limited Wi-Fi. And it can be slow. Viking Cruises not only offers free WiFi for passengers, but also for its crew – talk about a morale boost.
And now, with the new Starlink satellite system, faster and more reliable Wi-Fi is being introduced. I was recently in Antarctica, until recently an area of mostly blacked out Wi-Fi. But the ship – Silversea – had Starlink and I even streamed it live to CBS News streaming.
And, as with airlines, you can expect more cruise lines to start offering free Wi-Fi over the next six months.