How to Get life-changing In-Flight WiFi on US Airlines
“Wi-Fi is one of the most important things to consider when you’re booking your next flight, so we decided to figure out which airlines have the best connections. We looked at four important factors: leg room, luggage space, in-flight meals and on-board internet access. While some airlines have better wifi than others, it’s always good to know where to find a good connection before buying a ticket.”
The introduction of cellular networks to airplanes has drastically changed how passengers use their mobile devices on flights, with several trendsetters in the U.S. now offering significant, even unlimited, data plans and connectivity options on most domestic flights. While you should always check the terms of service before paying a fee for any wi-fi options offered by your airline, we’re here to help you get connected wherever you fly—without overpaying.
How about we plunge into the most recent on in-flight WiFi. The circumstance is continually changing, so here’s the most recent from each of the significant US carriers. Assuming you wind up without wifi on your next trip through the skies, recall that there are an assortment of disconnected applications that you can exploit. What’s more, you can save downloads ahead of time in many streaming applications like Netflix and Spotify.
On-board wifi is available on a handful of US airlines, but not all. Allegiant Air and Hawaiian Airlines currently have it on their planes, while Frontier, JetBlue, United and Sun Country (as well as Alaska) are planning to introduce some form soon. We’ve rounded up the latest information about in-flight wifi so you can make sure you netting onboard access when you fly!
Alaska Airlines describes its in-flight satellite-powered wifi as “streaming fast” (it’s apparently 500 Mbps), and it’s available on 80 percent of the fleet at the time of writing—that includes every Airbus aircraft. Plus, every plane should offer wifi by early 2023. Pricing is pretty straightforward, with a flat rate of $8 to get you connected. In-flight connectivity comes in handy for entertainment options like Netflix or read more on how this works on Delta’s flights.
If you’re flying on Delta and JetBlue, you’ll want to check for any in flight WiFi. American Airlines says it will be available on “select domestic flights,” but the details are vague with no mention of speeds or pricing. Other carriers offer similar options: Virgin America offers free in-flight WiFi on most routes, while Alaska Airlines has a $10 option with no monthly fee or subscription plan (it’s valued at $15/hour).
If you travel a lot, the airlines are now throwing in Wi-Fi for the price of a coach seat. Delta Air Lines now has wi-fi on 54 percent of its mainline aircraft (more than 300 routes), and its fast enough for streaming. Access is via either Intelsat or Viasat with prices starting at $5 for a single trip (monthly subscriptions starting at $50 are available too). Some messaging (via iMessage, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp) is provided for free as well.”
If you’re traveling on any of the major airlines, you can take advantage of in-flight WiFi. JetBlue’s high speed (around 20 Mbps) wifi should theoretically be able to provide video at those speeds over most of the contiguous United States, so long as you’re traveling within that area. You should also be able to use their service for free if you’re traveling with JetBlue.
Southwest Airlines lets travelers use iMessage and WhatsApp on its flights for free, but beyond that, there is a $8 fee. The service blocks certain “high-bandwidth applications” over in-flight wifi, which includes the likes of Netflix, HBO Max, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams. Other airlines like JetBlue also offer free wifi on most incursions but only allow mobile data usage in the U.S. unless paid for more expensive plans like JetBlue Plus or Premium Selects.
Spirit Airlines offers “state-of-the-art” wifi, which is apparently maxing out at around the 400 Mbps speed level. Pricing for basic browsing and streaming video over wifi is $3 and up, with prices depending on flight duration. At the time of writing, “most” Spirit aircraft have been fitted with the tech, so you still need to check if yours has it.
A Wi-Fi network is a feature on any plane, but the internet speed varies depending on the plane company. United Airlines promises wifi on “most” of its flights, with pricing starting at $8 and going up depending on how far you’re traveling and whether or not you’re part of the United Airlines Mileage Plus scheme. Speeds aren’t specified, but United says that streaming video is only possible on “select flights”
We obviously can’t cover every single regional and international airline here, but the website for the company you’re traveling with should have all the details you need to know—just double-check the options for your particular flight. The further you’re going and the more modern the plane, the better your chances of getting in-flight wifi.