Delta Airlines is gearing up to make in-flight wifi completely free for most passengers beginning within the next year, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal which cites multiple unnamed sources.
The company would not confirm forthcoming free wifi to Gizmodo. “We are currently in the process of testing wifi infrastructure with various offerings to select customers on select routes. Customers will be notified if they have this option on their flight,” a Delta spokesperson wrote in an email. However, the airline’s CEO, Ed Bastian, has previously indicated he would like connectivity to be free on Delta planes. And the company has recently been running small-scale tests for SkyMiles members, according to one account from the site Thrifty Traveler.
Back in 2019, Delta ran pilot tests of free wifi service for all passengers on 55 flights. Though, that trial didn’t lead to immediate change. Currently, Delta offers wifi on over half its planes at costs starting at $5 for a single flight. The company has also reportedly been testing SpaceX’s Starlink as a means of upgrading its in-flight connectivity.
In-flight wifi is notoriously bad, though improving. It’s historically been so unreliable that, earlier this year, the federal government had to step in to force airlines to refund customers when the internet craps out mid-air. But Gizmodo would be much less likely to complain about it, if it didn’t cost money. After all, getting internet connectivity beamed to your electronic device while you zoom fly through the sky at hundreds of miles per hour is a modern technological feat. And if it’s free—all the better.
If Delta stops charging for the service, it wouldn’t be the first airline to do so. Notably, JetBlue offers unlimited wifi, free for all passengers. And many other international carriers offer the service to select customers or under certain circumstances and limitations.
Previously, Hawaiin Airlines also said it planned to start providing free internet on long distance flights via Starlink next year. And both American Airlines and Southwest have been running tests of free wifi, per the Wall Street Journal. However, Delta is the second largest airline in the world, by number of flights, and would be the biggest to offer unrestricted cost-free internet on its planes.