In-flight Wi-Fi: Who has it and how much does it cost?

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Flights can be the perfect time to respond to emails, catch-up on work, or watch the latest episode of your favorite show. But, if your flight doesn’t have Wi-Fi all of these plans will be foiled as soon as you step foot on the plane. 

If you want to use Wi-Fi for your next flight, here’s what you need to know about who has it, who doesn’t and what you’ll need to pay to get it. 

How to find out whether your flight has Wi-Fi

If you know you’ll need, or want, Wi-Fi on-board your next flight be sure to check for it before booking your ticket. If you’re a frequent flyer on a specific airline or have one of the best airline credit cards of 2020 and want to fly on a specific carrier, most airline websites will tell you if they offer universal on-board Wi-Fi, or if they have it available for purchase. Or just scroll down on this post for top-airline Wi-Fi policies!

Some travel booking websites like Kayak also specify if a flight you’re looking to book has on-board Wi-Fi before you pay. On this American Airlines flight from Washington to Charlotte, NC, both ways have Wi-Fi, as you can tell from the tiny symbol in the corner next to the flight details. 

Photo courtesy of Kayak

If you’ve already booked your ticket and are just curious to see if you’ll have WI-Fi access on-board, sites like SeatGuru make finding this out easy. On SeatGuru, you’ll be prompted to type in the airline you’re flying, travel date, and flight number (if you don’t know your flight number you can also provide a departing and arriving airport instead). SeatGuru will then show you all of the amenities on board your flight, as well as a detailed seating map, outlining which seats have outlets next to them. 

For the economy section of a Delta flight in October from New York to Los Angeles, SeatGuru has outlined the below for on-board amenities and seating. Mousing over each seat will tell you the specific features; here the small gray dots symbolize a power outlet.

Photo courtesy of SeatGuru

Top airlines that offer Wi-Fi on board

Everything you need to know about the basic Wi-Fi policies of your favorite airline. 

American Airlines 

Do they have Wi-Fi? American airlines offers Wi-Fi that can be purchased on-board or in advance on almost all U.S. domestic flights, and Wi-Fi that can be purchased on-board for all Boeing 777-300ER international flights.

How much does it cost? All Wi-Fi must be purchased per device, and prices vary by flight, but start at as little as $10 on domestic flights. 

Any special deals or circumstances? If you fly often, consider joining the Monthly American Airlines Internet Plan for $49.95 a month (plus tax). You’ll get Wi-Fi access to Gogo and Viasat whenever you fly domestically in the U.S., Canada and Mexico on Wi-Fi equipped flights.

Delta 

Do they have Wi-Fi? Delta has Wi-Fi that can be purchased on-board or in advance on nearly all domestic and international flights. 

How much does it cost? All Wi-Fi must be purchased per device, at $7 for a domestic flight one-hour pass, $19 for an all-day domestic flight pass and $28 for an all-day international flight pass. 

Any special deals or circumstances? Delta offers free messaging through iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger on all flights that are equipped with Wi-Fi. Travelers do not need to purchase messaging and messaging and data rates do not apply. To connect, simply connect to “Delta Wi-Fi” then select “free messaging” on your flight. 

United 

Do they have Wi-Fi? United has Wi-Fi available for all United aircrafts and two-cabin United Express aircrafts available for purchase on-board or in advance. Internet video streaming, video clips and streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, YouTube, Vevo, etc., are all not supported.

How much does it cost? All Wi-Fi must be purchased per device, and prices vary by flight.

Any special deals or circumstances? No. 

Southwest 

Do they have Wi-Fi? Southwest offers Wi-Fi on all flights that can be purchased in advance or while on-board, with the exception of anecdotal planes. 

How much does it cost? All Wi-Fi needs to be purchased for $8 per day, per device. 

Any special deals or circumstances? Wi-Fi is free for all Southwest A-list Preferred Members. Southwest also offers free messaging through iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger on all flights that are equipped with Wi-Fi. Travelers do not need to purchase messaging and messaging and data rates do not apply. To connect, visit the InFlight Entertainment Portal while on-board.  

Alaska Airlines

Do they have Wi-Fi? Alaska airlines offers inflight internet or satellite Wi-Fi on all flights that can be purchased in advance or while on-board, with the exception of Q400 planes. 

How much does it cost? All Wi-Fi needs to be purchased per device and costs vary based on length of flight and type of device used, but costs start at $4.95. 

Any special deals or circumstances? Alaska Airlines offers free messaging through iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger on all flights in North America except flights to Mexico, Hawaii, and Costa Rica.To connect go to the “Alaska_WiFi” network and choose “free texting” while on-board. 

Air Canada 

Do they have Wi-Fi? Air Canada offers Wi-Fi on select North American, Caribbean and international flights, available for pre-flight or on-board purchase. 

How much does it cost? All Wi-Fi must be purchased per device and costs $6.50 for a one-hour pass or $21 for a one-day pass, on any flight where Wi-Fi is accessible. 

Any special deals or circumstances? For $65.95 per month, frequent Air Canada flyers can get unlimited Wi-Fi access on flights between airports in Canada, US and Mexico, where network coverage is available.

JetBlue 

Do they have Wi-Fi? JetBlue offers free gate-to-gate Wi-Fi on all flights, called Fly-Fi. 

How much does it cost? It’s free!

Any special deals or circumstances? Travelers have the option to purchase Fly-Fi+, a significantly faster form of JetBlue Wi-Fi, for $9 per hour. 

Hawaiian Airlines

Do they have Wi-Fi? There is currently no Wi-Fi available on Hawaiian airlines flights.

How much does it cost? Not available. 

Any special deals or circumstances? Like most other airlines on this list, Hawaiian airlines offers free in-flight entertainment such as streaming of movies and tv shows pre-programmed into the individual seat televisions. 

British Airways 

Do they have Wi-Fi? Wi-Fi on British Airways is currently available on most flights, and the airline hopes to have 90% of its flights connected by the end of 2020. Because Wi-Fi is still being rolled out, customers will only be notified when on-board if they’re on a connected flight. 

How much does it cost? Travelers can choose between two packages — “browse” and “stream” for their in-flight Wi-Fi experience which must be purchased on flight, per device. “Browse” packages are for surfing the internet, sending emails etc. and cost $6.50 for one hour, $14.32 for four hours and $19.50 for a full flight. “Stream” packages include browse services as well as streaming of TV and movies and cost $10 for one hour, $23 for four hours and $30 for a full flight. 

Any special deals or circumstances? No. 

Virgin Atlantic

Do they have Wi-Fi? Virgin Atlantic offers Wi-Fi on all flights for purchase on-board or before takeoff, except for on one A340-600, which currently doesn’t offer Wi-Fi.

How much does it cost? All Wi-Fi on Virgin Atlantic must be purchased per device, and is available based on data amount. Virgin Atlantic’s Wi-Fi Light gives travelers 40MB of data for $6.50 and Wi-Fi Max gives travelers 150MB of data for $19.50

Any special deals or circumstances? No.

Spirit Airlines

Do they have Wi-Fi? Spirit Airlines is beginning to install Wi-Fi on all flights in November 2020 and expect all flights to have the service sometime in 2021.

How much does it cost?
Price information will be available in the coming months as the Wi-Fi begins to be installed on Spirit. 

Any special deals or circumstances? No information currently available. 

FAQ about in-flight Wi-Fi

How do airplanes connect to Wi-Fi? Is it safe?

Airplanes connect to Wi-Fi in two ways. The first is ground-based WiFi, in which the airplane has an antenna attached to its underside. This kind of Wi-Fi works in the same way as your cell phone Wi-Fi does, by using cell towers. Basically, as you fly the antenna on the underside connects to whatever cell tower is nearest on a rolling basis, giving you Wi-Fi for your flight.

The second way a plane connects to Wi-Fi is via a network of orbiting satellites. The satellites are linked to ground stations and the plane connects to them using an antenna on top of the aircraft. This kind of Wi-Fi is different from the kind that powers your cell phone!

Both kinds of Wi-Fi have undergone rigorous testing and are widely accepted as being safe for travelers to use! 

How can I get Wi-Fi for free?

While some airlines, like JetBlue, offer free Wi-Fi for all travelers, in most cases you’ll have to pay for Wi-Fi. There are some exceptions to the rule where you can get free Wi-Fi for being a frequent flyer or a loyalty rewards program member of a specific airline, like Southwest’s A-list Preferred Members.

You also might be able to get free Wi-Fi on some of your devices through a loophole. Because on most airlines you have to pay per device, if you pay for Wi-Fi on your phone first, then use it as a hotspot for other devices, you might be able to get Wi-Fi on your laptop or iPad for free. 

What are the main Wi-Fi providers in the sky?

Right now, GoGo and ViaSat are the top two internet and Wi-Fi providers for airplanes. 

What is GoGo In-flight Wi-Fi?

GoGo In-Flight is a provider of Wi-Fi, internet and other connectivity services for both commercial and business airplanes, available on United, Delta, Alaska Airlines and Air Canada. 

You can pre-purchase an in-flight internet pass on GoGo for any of these airlines — a one hour pass costs $7 and a one day pass costs $19. Delta Airlines only has the option for a GoGo International Pass available for $24. GoGo also offers monthly and yearly Wi-Fi subscriptions for select airlines on the list above, available on the GoGo website. 

Bottom line

Almost all major airlines give you the option to purchase Wi-Fi during your flight (or provide it for free) and make connecting easy, convenient and safe. For your next flight, consider using on-board Wi-Fi and allow yourself to be entertained via TV, movies and music, or catch-up on emails and work, all while traveling 300 miles per hour at 60,000 feet in the air. 

Alexandra Maloney is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, she covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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