This past week, Delta Air Lines announced that it will soon be rolling out free Wi-Fi to all of its passengers. Although Wi-Fi at 30,000 feet is not a new concept, it traditionally has cost customers a pretty penny in order to use the service. However, this seems like a natural progression for the airline as customers are becoming increasingly dependent on their devices, especially on longer haul flights.
This also seems like a logical step for the airline as they have increasingly begun to offer entertainment amenities to their passengers for free. Years ago, when Delta first rolled out their seatback entertainment experience, guests had to pay $6 in order to rent a movie during the flight. For a long haul flight, this fee could really add up. Over the years, Delta started offering complimentary entertainment for International customers and eventually switched to making movies free for all passengers on all flights.
Wi-Fi has always operated on a tiered price system on Delta flights. There are 30 minute, hour and flight duration length passes available for purchase in addition to bigger frequent flyer passes that are good for an entire year. Besides promotional deals that offer limited complimentary Wi-Fi to guests on select mobile carriers or with select credit cards, Wi-Fi has never been free on flights. Rather recently, Delta began allowing passengers to keep their mobile phones on for the duration of the flight, when traditionally they were asked to be off, especially for takeoff. Shortly after this change, the airline began to offer free messaging to all passengers, however, the amenity was rather tricky to use. In personal experience, my phone would rarely stay connected to the free messaging service, making it not worth the hassle. Thus, moving onto free Wi-Fi for all passengers on all flights seems like a very logical and natural progression for Delta’s onboard amenity offerings.
This move towards free Wi-Fi isn’t Delta’s first groundbreaking step in the industry to connect us from the air to the ground, either. They are already on their third generation of Wi-Fi, working to connect passengers with the fastest and most reliable internet; showing a high concern for customer care and acknowledgement of the digital age. The airline currently has Wi-Fi capabilities on all of its planes with greater than 50 seats; something Forbes says could take competitors years to catch up to.