Delta Air Lines announced it is going to be testing free WiFi on flights beginning May 13. The test will last approximately two weeks and will cover up to 55 daily flights. Flights will be randomly selected, so there is no way of predicting ahead of time which flights will offer the free service. Passengers will be notified ahead of time by email or through the Fly Delta app.
Delta will continue to offer free messaging and WiFi for purchase throughout its network during the test. It is using the test to gather customer broadband trends and preferences before possibly expanding the free service on a larger scale.
Free inflight WiFi isn’t unheard of, as JetBlue already offers it. But, this is the first tangible step towards Delta offering it as well. Delta CEO Ed Bastian opened the door to the possibility of free WiFi last year. While speaking at the Skift Global Forum in New York he said, “I don’t know of anywhere else, besides in an airplane, that you can’t get free WiFi. We’re going to make it free.”
This is one more positive step forward for the passenger experience, or PaxEx, after years of passengers feeling the squeeze globally - both in the cabin with reduced seat pitch and size and in the wallet with increased ancillaries, like checked bag fees. In spite of all the fees, air travel has never been cheaper. 2018 had the lowest average fares (adjusted for inflation) since the mid 1990s.