Delta to launch free inflight Wi-Fi on 1 February 2023
“We’ve invested a billion dollars to do this. No one better connects the world than Delta, no one better connects the sky, and this is the last frontier of connection that exists.” – Forbes article quoted Ed Bastian, CEO Delta Air Lines at CES 2023.
Delta will become the first of the big three US carriers to launch free Wi-Fi for its passengers.
Partnering with Viasat and mobile phone carrier T-Mobile, Delta has announced 1 February 2023 as the date it will roll out free Wi-Fi to passengers on nearly 80 per-cent of its domestic fleet. By the end of 2023, more than 700 of Delta’s aircraft are expected to feature Viasat Wi-Fi.
Although free Wi-Fi onboard is not ground-breaking in itself, with JetBlue offering this since 2017, the scale at which Delta will roll this out has made headlines. The airline has been teasing the introduction of free inflight Wi-Fi for years. However, the airline had to move from Gogo to Viasat in 2021 in order to make the vision a reality.
The access to free Wi-Fi onboard at this scale represents a significant step for inflight connectivity (IFC). However, Delta have also revealed plans to launch a new digital platform: Delta Sync Exclusives Hub. This will give Skymiles members free access to “content that is typically behind a subscription-based paywall, including Paramount+ entertainment, New York Times Games, Atlas Obscura travel content, and Resy, a restaurant guide app owned by American Express.”
The airline is hoping to renovate the on-board experience for passengers with the level of connectivity offered. Delta CEO, Ed Bastian said at the Consumer Electronics Tradeshow:
“At work, at home and everywhere in between, connectivity is essential to daily life, and your journey on Delta should be no different. Our vision has long been to deliver an experience at 30,000 feet that feels similar to what our customers have available on the ground. […] We didn’t just want free Wi-Fi to offer base-level service – we wanted it to be transformative for the entire onboard experience. It is imperative all customers onboard can enjoy their favourite content just as they would at home, and we’ve put this system through meticulous tests to make that possible.”
Pertinently, Delta is promising streaming capabilities on a large scale which will be a considerable test for the airline. Initially, the service will be offered on all Viasat-equipped domestic flights, and by the end of 2024, Delta is aiming to have free Wi-Fi on all wide body jets and regional jets.
For more information on in-flight connectivity read IFC, a lucrative, loyalty building opportunity.
Article by Jess Brownlow