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Delta Says Free Wi-Fi For Passengers Is Coming Soon
Competition is high among the major American airline carriers.
Just last week, Delta Air Lines revealed its plan to offer free Wi-Fi to passengers in-flight. “We’re going to make it free,” said Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, while speaking about his long-term goals for in-flight Wi-Fi during the Skift Global Forum in New York City last week. “I don’t know of anywhere else besides in an airplane that you can’t get free Wi-Fi.”
Although an exact date has not been set, Bastian feels as though this move would strengthen the relationship between customers and the airline, for purposes of marketing and branding.
Delta is now testing a new wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) system on its new Airbus A220 models. “A wireless IFE is great because it means we don’t have to wire the planes anymore,” Bastian said. “We just put the tablet on the back of the seat headrest as a display panel.”
This new technology is great for passengers because it eliminates the need to have to reset all monitors if there is an issue with one person’s screen.
The technology also allows the company to cut down on costs significantly. Bastian estimated that it could cost more than $1 million per plane to install wired IFE, while wireless IFE will cut that cost down by two-thirds.
Delta will not be the first major airline to offer free in-flight Wi-Fi. Jet Blue is currently the only large airline carrier offering free in-flight Wi-Fi, although it is very expensive for the company.
Based on statements made by American Airlines President, Robert Isom, it doesn’t look like his company will be offering free Wi-Fi just yet based on various commercial and logistical considerations.
In the last year, United Airlines has been making technical upgrades in hopes of increasing Wi-Fi speeds in selected aircraft. However, no formal announcement has been made about their plans for free Wi-Fi.