Delta Airlines will offer travelers free Wi-Fi from February 1, after years of studying the likelihood.
About 80% of Delta’s domestic fleet will offer the service next month, but more will likely be available each week, CEO Ed Bastian said during a presentation on the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Thursday.
Delta said in release afterward Thursday that it’s free Wi-Fi that’s sponsored by the corporate T-Mobileit would be available on greater than 700 aircraft by the top of 2023 and on international and regional aircraft by the top of next yr.
“It’s without spending a dime. There is not any high-quality print,” said Bastian. “We invested over $1 billion to create it.”
Delta’s plan to supply free web access will add to the pressure on rivals as airlines compete for purchasers in a travel recovery from the pandemic crisis nearly three years ago. Delta management has repeatedly stated that the airline is trying to attract higher-paying customers and that revenue from premium cabins similar to business class has outpaced revenue growth from a normal coach.
The passenger cabin of a Boeing 737-900ER Delta while landing in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Mike Blake | Reuters
Travelers will access the free online service by logging in with their Delta SkyMiles loyalty program account details, added Bastian. Although passengers will need a SkyMiles account, becoming a member is free.
Delta last March said it was equipping more of its planes with high-speed Wi-Fi Viasat and made it available for a flat fee of $5. The operator already offers free messages.
Most airlines charge for Wi-Fi: United Airlines charges $8 from members of its frequent flyer program and $10 from other customers and Southwest Airlines charges $8. It’s free JetBluewhich has several corporate sponsors for the service, and Hawaiian Airlines plans to supply free web access this yr using SpaceX’s Starlink.
american airlinesWi-Fi service starts at $10 and varies by route, although last April the carrier and its provider, Viasat, began testing free Wi-Fi for some customers.
Airlines executives have been hesitant to supply free Wi-Fi service until it becomes more reliable.
Delta also said on Thursday that it might be unveiling recent ones in-flight entertainment systemsstarting this summer. Passenger Preferences “will travel with you from flight to flight and even remember where you left off the movie,” Delta said in a release.
The company is partnering with Paramount+ for passenger entertainment as well American ExpressDelta’s partner in its lucrative co-branded bank card line, and card company Resy’s booking platform as an airline, is betting on personalization and partnerships beyond flights, from food to ground transportation.
The airline works with loyalty partners Starbucks and Lyftamongst others.