Thursday, 9 May 2019

Is Delta about to offer free in-flight wi-fi?

Photo Delta
Is the US mega-carrier Delta about to offer free Wi-Fi access on its aircraft? 

Both yes and no.

The airline is undertaking a two-week pilot test from 13th May, on some 55 domestic flights a day where they will allow passengers, in all cabins, to surf the net for free.

This two-week pilot trial runs in all cabins on select short-, medium- and long-haul routes and is perhaps the first step toward offering free in-flight Wi-Fi as part its leading suite of complimentary onboard entertainment options.

"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. "Testing will be key to getting this highly complex program right – this takes a lot more creativity, investment and planning to bring to life than a simple flip of a switch."

But....yes there is a but,  this free test will not support content streaming, so watching the latest episode of your favourite soap or drama will not be possible.  It will, however, allow less high bandwidth operations such as browsing the net, emailing, shopping, sending a message or even engaging on social media and that sort of thing.

Delta's initial test on select domestic high-speed 2Ku Wi-Fi-equipped aircraft is designed to understand customer experience preferences, system performance, customer feedback and more. Dimbiloglu noted that due to the complexity of the project, it will likely take several more test phases and lots of listening to ensure the free product Delta delivers, adds value. 

"As with any test in uncharted territory, Delta will rely heavily on customer and employee feedback to navigate how to best make free in-flight Wi-Fi a reality," Dimbiloglu said.

Test flight segments will change daily as part of the test structure, but customers will be notified by Delta if they're being tapped for the test via email and a Fly Delta app push notification prior to their flight and upon visiting the Wi-Fi portal on board.

Delta currently offers Wi-Fi on nearly all flights across its domestic and international networks and has installed high-speed 2Ku on 60% of mainline aircraft. Wi-Fi for purchase and free mobile messaging will remain available throughout the test timeframe, just as they are today. 

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