Inconsistent, unreliable and often pricey, airplane Wi-Fi has succeeded airplane food as the most complained about part of air-travel. Fortunately, better, free in-flight Wi-Fi may be the norm in the near future.
According to the Wall Street Journal, free Wi-Fi is expected to be available on most flights within two years.
Currently, Jet Blue is the only airline to offer free gate-to-gate Wi-Fi. The service can cost anywhere from $2.99 to $41.99 at other airlines, with little to no correlation between price and service quality. Industry experts predict that once one huge carrier, like Delta, begins offering free Wi-Fi, others will inevitably follow, according to WSJ. In order for this to happen, airlines will first have to upgrade their planes to faster satellite-based service, a move Alaska Airlines recently made before slashing Wi-Fi prices from $39.95 to $20.
In order to fund free Wi-Fi on flights, airlines are seeking out sponsors, some of which already pay to provide certain features for their customers. Jet Blue’s free service is provided by Amazon, while T-Mobile sponsors some in-flight Wi-Fi for its users and Apple pays so listeners have free access to Apple Music on American Airlines flights.
Delta has already begun experimenting with free Wi-Fi, offering free trials on a few flights back in May. While the airline has not discussed the results of the trials, Delta chief executive Ed Bastian has made it clear that free Wi-Fi remains an important goal for the airline.
“Our goal is to make Wi-Fi free with high-speed quality,” Bastian said in a Barron’s interview in June, adding that it “will take another year or two to make that happen.”
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