Which Airlines Have the Best Wi-Fi? Here's How They Compare
While some airlines charge a (surprisingly hefty) fee, others are completely free.
The times in which you'd hop on a flight and text your loved ones, "I'll talk to you when I land" are basically over. With aircraft technology improving, most major airlines in the US (and in the world) now offer Wi-Fi service, which allows you to both stay in contact with your friends and family and to pass the time scrolling through your favorite social media apps.
While Wi-Fi service is widely available in the air, specifics (including speed, price, and what you're allowed to do when connected) vary widely depending on the airline you're flying with. Some of them offer free, fast Wi-Fi for every passenger, while others may restrict the service to travelers paying for premium seats or ask travelers to pay a fee to surf the net.
To help you understand better to what extent you'll be able to connect to the internet on your next flight, we took into account the major US airlines that currently offer Wi-Fi service, and broke it down for you in a handy guide, which we'll continue to update as airlines update (and hopefully improve!) their offerings and policies.
Alaska Airlines offers Wi-Fi service on most flights (some aircrafts are not equipped with the system yet), and passengers will be pleased to know that texting is available without any internet connectivity-related purchase if using iMessage, Facebook Messenger, or WhatsApp (but no SMS).
If you do, however, want to have more than messaging available to you, there is a price to pay, which is usually $8 for "streaming-fast satellite Wi-Fi," according to the Alaska Airlines website. The price for "Basic Wi-Fi," though, varies depending on the aircraft, and the carrier notes it can cost up to $24.99.
For the most assiduous Alaska Airlines travelers, monthly and yearly subscriptions are also available, and select T-Mobile and Sprint mobile subscribers can connect to T-Mobile in-flight Wi-Fi on some of the carrier's flights.
American Airlines is a little stingier when it comes to its Wi-Fi, meaning that no complimentary in-flight messaging is currently available for passengers.
However, the price to connect to onboard Wi-Fi is not too steep, and it starts at $10 for "upgraded, high-speed Wi-Fi" on select domestic flights. Just like Alaska Airlines, the fee can vary depending on the flight, but according to America Airlines, most routes flaunt the $10 price point.
Once you pay the price, though, your experience should be pretty seamless, and you'll be able to surf the web as well as stream your favorite video services, including Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max.
AAdvantage members have the option to get a $50 monthly Wi-Fi subscription per device, but if you want to bring two devices into the mix, that will only cost you $60 for both. On some flights, T-Mobile in-flight Wi-Fi is also available.
Delta Air Lines
Delta has a very solid reputation when it comes to Wi-Fi.
The great thing about it is that, on most planes, every passenger can get fast Wi-Fi (which you can also use to stream) for free regardless of their status. The only thing Delta asks is that you're a SkyMiles member to access a free internet connection—but don't worry, it's free to join (and you can build up your miles wallet with it).
This year, Delta has been rolling out its new free Wi-Fi feature on most planes, and said that all domestic flights would be equipped with it by the end of 2023. The upgrade will also affect international flights, but passengers will have to wait until the end of 2024 for all of them to feature the service.
If you don't want to become a SkyMiles member, though (or if your flight doesn't support the new service yet) you can still access Wi-Fi, but you'll have to pay a $10 fee for it. If you're a frequent flyer, you can also choose to purchase a daily or monthly subscription.
Some Delta flights also support T-Mobile in-flight Wi-Fi.
Technically speaking, Hawaiian Airlines doesn't offer in-flight WI-Fi yet, but there is a future promise for it. Last year, the carrier announced that it would be offering free Wi-Fi on its flights thanks to a new deal with Starlink. According to the announcement, the Wi-Fi service should start rolling out in 2023, so stay tuned.
JetBlue and Delta are currently at the top of the crop when it comes to their in-flight Wi-Fi offerings.
JetBlue has been offering free Wi-Fi on its flights for years, and it is high-speed too. Just like the new Delta service, you can access JetBlue's in-flight internet service for free regardless of your passenger status, and you can use it to scroll through your social media as well as stream video or even work.
Southwest's planes aren't all equipped with Wi-Fi networks, but passengers can still manage.
The ones that do offer the service allow travelers to access movies and on-demand TV shows for free, as well as live programming and music. Plus, you can text for free as long as you use iMessage or WhatsApp.
If you want to have broader access, you can choose to pay an $8 fee per device, but watch out—streaming from platforms like Netflix, HBO Max, or other services is not supported, and neither are video-conferencing services such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. That last point is bad news for your boss, but maybe good news for you.
Spirit Airlines was recently crowned the most "unbothered" airline on TikTok thanks to its seemingly carefree vibe, but when it comes to Wi-Fi connectivity, the airline takes that seriously.
The carrier has marketed itself for offering the fastest in-flight Wi-Fi of any US airline, and it's available to be purchased for a very reasonable price. Spirit is offering Wi-Fi for $2.99 to browse and text, while you'll have to pay $5.99 to stream your favorite shows. Currently, Wi-Fi service is available on most Spirit aircraft.
Passengers on United flights don't yet have the option to browse the web for free. Currently, travelers can use in-flight Wi-Fi on most North American flights if they're willing to pay a fee, which is usually $8 for MileagePlus members and $10 for non-members. MileagePlus members can also decide to use their miles instead of swiping their credit card, and choose to spend 1,600 miles instead of $8. However, prices might increase on longer distances.
While video streaming isn't supported on most planes, you'll always be able to surf the internet and send messages on select apps, including iMessage, WhatsApp and Messages by Google. T-Mobile in-flight Wi-Fi is also available on some United flights.
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