Zach Griff

Delta debuts free Wi-Fi for all SkyMiles members in latest internet trial

Delta’s promise of offering free Wi-FI on all flights is getting one step closer to reality.

This week, the Atlanta-based carrier introduced free internet access for all SkyMiles members on select aircraft. To enjoy complimentary internet access, all you need to do is enter your SkyMiles number and password on the landing page at deltawifi.com.

Once signed in, you’ll be connected to the internet without any payment or monthly pass required. This free Wi-Fi package supports streaming speeds, so you can enjoy all of your favorite content throughout the flight.

COURTESY DELTA

Delta confirmed to TPG that this offering is part of continued testing of its new Wi-Fi system. “We are currently in the process of testing Wi-Fi infrastructure with various offerings to select customers on select routes. Customers will be notified if they have this option on their flight,” reads Delta’s statement.

For now, the trial appears to be limited to select aircraft that are equipped with the new, speedier Viasat satellite-based connectivity, which is expected to be installed on a vast majority of Delta’s mainline fleet by the end of the year.

At the moment, Viasat antennas are installed on many new and retrofitted Airbus A321s, Boeing 737-900ERs and Boeing 757-200s.

As part of this new offer, you can enjoy free internet access even if you’re not yet a SkyMiles member. Simply sign up from the Wi-Fi landing page, and you’ll be connected to the internet just minutes later. If you’d prefer not to enroll in Delta’s loyalty program, you can instead connect to the system for a flat $5 fee per device, regardless of flight distance.

Expanding the free Wi-Fi trial to all SkyMiles members comes just weeks after Delta began offering complimentary internet to Medallion elite members on Viasat-equipped planes.

That trial was seemingly successful, and now Delta is ready to expand free internet access to more flyers as it stress tests the new hardware.

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“We want Wi-Fi to be exactly the same for you at 35,000 feet up as it is on the ground for our customers. And it’s complex to do, but we are actively testing it right now and it’s working,” said Allison Ausband, Delta’s chief customer experience officer, at the Skift Aviation Forum in Dallas on Wednesday.

In early 2019, Delta CEO Ed Bastian shared a goal to “make Wi-Fi free with high-speed quality.” Pandemic delays aside, it appears that the airline is finally getting ready to deliver on this promise.

Though there’s no timeline yet for when Delta will officially flip the switch on free Wi-Fi, the airline plans to do so “soon” for domestic flights, with an international expansion slated for the end of 2024, according to an internal Delta memo that leaked this summer.

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As Delta inches closer to free fleet-wide Wi-Fi, its competitors are also investing in better inflight internet solutions (but none have promised to make Wi-Fi free).

Alaska Airlines and United Airlines recently debuted $8 flat-fee pricing for Wi-Fi, and the latter carrier even promised to install Viasat connectivity on all new and retrofitted domestic jets.

Ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines recently shared that its Wi-Fi rollout is now formally complete, while Southwest Airlines recently announced that it’s adding a new internet provider (Viasat) and upgrading its existing one (Anuvu) across its fleet of Boeing 737s .

Even as Delta gets closer to its big Wi-Fi goal, it’s worth mentioning that JetBlue Airways is still the market leader in onboard connectivity. The New York-based carrier continues to offer free gate-to-gate Wi-Fi with no speed caps or device restrictions.

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