Passengers flying on Delta Air Lines in future may be able to look forward to having in-flight internet access without having to pay for it, with the US carrier due to begin trialling complimentary on-board wifi across a number of its services next week.
Starting Monday, May 13 the carrier will offer limited free wifi to all passengers on 55 of its short-, medium- and long-haul domestic flight segments over a two-week period. According to the airline, the test will allow passengers to browse the internet, check emails, shop online, use social media and send messages, but won’t encompass more demanding services such as audio and video streaming.
“Customers are accustomed to having access to free Wi-Fi during nearly every other aspect of their journey, and Delta believes it should be free when flying, too,” said Ekrem Dimbiloglu, director of onboard product at Delta.
“Testing will be key to getting this highly complex programme right – this takes a lot more creativity, investment and planning to bring to life than a simple flip of a switch.”
The exact routes that will offer free wifi as part of the trial will change daily, though passengers will be alerted via email and the Fly Delta app prior to their flight if theirs is part of the trial programme.
The move follows Delta’s decision in 2017 to begin offering free mobile messaging on its flights.
And if a Business Traveller Asia-Pacific poll from the same year is anything to go by, the decision to offer free wifi is likely to be popular among travellers.
Asking readers how long they usually purchase in-flight wifi for on long-haul flights, 46 per cent of respondents said they only use onboard wifi when it is free, while 34 per cent said they don’t use it at all. Only 20 per cent of respondents said they were prepared to pay to have in-flight wifi on long-haul flights.
Delta isn’t the only airline that has seen the benefits of offering free wifi to passengers on board its flights.
Budget airline Norwegian announced earlier this year that it plans to offer passengers on long-haul services complimentary wifi access.
Meanwhile, Japan’s ANA has offered free in-flight wifi connectivity to all passengers travelling on its domestic services since April last year.