BEST INFLIGHT WIFI IN THE US
Whether it’s for business or simply because of an unhealthy obsession, many of us struggle going more than a few minutes without Internet access. This can be particularly troublesome when traveling. When we’re heading home for the holidays, going on a business trip, or taking off on a summer vacation, we need to know which airlines do the most to keep us online while in the air.
Through painstaking research and expert data analysis, HighSpeedInternet.com put together a report of their exclusive rankings of the in-flight Wi-Fi offerings of domestic airlines.
TOP DOMESTIC AIRLINE WI-FI SERVICES
JetBlue offers the best overall in-flight Wi-Fi for personal travel. The biggest reason JetBlue tops the rankings is because when it’s available, it comes at no extra cost. JetBlue is the only airline in America that offers free in-flight Wi-Fi.
Along with being the most affordable, JetBlue’s in-flight Wi-Fi is also among the fastest; it’s tied with Delta and Virgin America at 15 Mbps. Southwest grabbed the second spot with a great balance of affordability and availability. It offers inflight Wi-Fi on 90% of its ASM and charges
just $8 per day.
Virgin America and Jet Blue lead the pack, offering in-flight Wi-Fi on 100% of their ASM. The downside to all that availability is that Virgin America’s in-flight Wi-Fi is the most expensive—it costs up to $25 per day. Jet Blue, however, still manages to provide its passengers with free Wi-Fi.
Delta was a close second in availability, offering in-flight Wi-Fi on 98% of its
ASM. The industry standard for measuring the total service capacity of an airline is Available Seat Miles (ASM). To calculate an airline’s ASM, multiply the total number of seats in its fleet of planes by the total number of miles the airline flies in a year. Our availability statistic is the percentage of an airline’s ASM on which it offers Wi-Fi.
If you’re simply looking for the fastest in-flight Wi-Fi, you have several options. However, while Delta, JetBlue, and Virgin America all offer in-flight Wi-Fi up to 15 Mbps, they vary in price enormously.
Your first choice should be JetBlue because its in-flight Wi-Fi is free.
If JetBlue doesn’t work for you, Delta should be your next choice. It charges up to $16 per day for in-flight Wi-Fi, which it offers on 98% of its ASM.
Finally, if you can’t find a JetBlue or Delta flight that offers Wi-Fi and matches your travel time and destination, your next choice should be Virgin America. Getting Wi-Fi on Virgin America will cost you up to $25, but you’re sure to get the top speed offered.
If you need Wi-Fi on your flight, avoid Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Spirit Airlines. Despite being decently sized domestic airlines, they don’t offer in-flight Wi-Fi services on any of their ASM.
Purchasing Wi-Fi directly from Gogo may be your best option. Gogo is an internet provider focused on in-flight service. You can subscribe to in-flight internet service plans directly from Gogo, and you can use that subscription to access the Wi-Fi on
Alaska Airlines, Delta, United, or Virgin America. (You can also use it on Air Canada flights, but we’re focusing on US airlines for this piece.)
Gogo offers an array of in-flight internet service plans that vary in duration, coverage area, and even the number of devices you plan to connect. If you travel a lot—especially through cities whose airports service a high volume of flights from Gogo’s participating airlines—Gogo plans may be more cost-effective than purchasing in-flight Wi-Fi service from the airlines themselves. This may also help you avoid the per-flight Wi-Fi fees charged by Virgin America and United.
TOP DOMESTIC AIRLINE WI-FI SERVICES FOR BUSINESS TRAVEL
When traveling for business, out-of-pocket cost isn’t as high of a concern. If you’re an employee, your company will likely be footing the bill. And if you’re a business owner, paying for reliable in-flight internet could keep your employees productive while traveling. After all, you gotta spend money to make money!
Virgin America and Jet Blue rank number one for in-flight Wi-Fi when traveling for business.
With the top speed and availability, Virgin Airlines and Jet Blue are the best choices for business travelers who need in-flight Wi-Fi. You’re virtually guaranteed to have Wi-Fi on any domestic flight, and the speeds are as good as you’ll find. With this great option, your productivity will be taking off shortly after your plane does.
If you don’t have Virgin America or Jet Blue as an airline option, Delta is a great second choice. It offers in-flight Wi-Fi that’s just as fast as Virgin America and Jet Blue’s and less expensive than Virgin America’s. The only reason it ranks behind Virgin America is because it’s not quite as available across all of Delta’s ASM.
For this article we used the availability statistics published in routehappy.com’s 2017 Wi-Fi Report and then tracked down the Wi-Fi speeds and prices offered by each airline. (This sounds easier than it was.)
Some airlines don’t publish their in-flight Wi-Fi information.
So, to get it, our team spent days contacting various departments at some of these airlines—hounding them via email, phone, and social media. We’re not complaining—we’re happy to go the extra mile to help consumers. But the fact that this information was so hard to find does raise some concerns about transparency. We think airlines could go a long way to reduce consumer frustration by making this information more readily available.