Delta Air Lines is poised to become the first of the “Big Three” airlines to offer free Wi-Fi to its customers starting on Feb. 1.
Not all United States flights will enjoy the free service immediately, but the company plans to expand it over time across its services after years of studying the issue, CEO Ed Bastian announced Thursday.
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“It’s free. There’s no fine print,” Bastian explained at a Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, per CNBC.
“We have invested over $1 billion to create this.”
To get access to the free Wi-Fi, customers will need to become members of its SkyMiles loyalty program, which is free. Otherwise, customers will have to pay a flat $5 fee. About 80% of Delta’s domestic narrow-body aircrafts will be prepped to offer free Wi-Fi during the launch of the initiative, Bastian estimated.
Currently, Delta charges about $50 per month for Wi-Fi.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bastian acknowledged intense public interest in making Wi-Fi free, but explained the dilemma was that too many users would overload the system.
Some airline companies, such as JetBlue, offer Wi-Fi for free but most don’t, including other members of the “Big Three”: American Airlines and United Airlines.
Fees for Wi-Fi vary among airline companies with United charging $8 for members of its frequent flyer program or $10 for nonmembers. American Airlines’s price generally hovers around $10, and Southwest Airlines charges $8.
Delta has about 100 million members in its loyalty program and has partnered with companies such as Starbucks to make the program more attractive to customers.