How Delta Became One of the World's Top Airlines for In-flight Wi-Fi

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With more than 1,100 aircraft equipped with Wi-Fi, Delta Air Lines is one of the world's largest providers of in-flight Internet. The fleet's Wi-Fi is powered by Gogo, and is offered on nearly all Delta flights. Like several other major airlines equipped by Gogo, access to Delta's Wi-Fi may be purchased before any given flight.

Delta Wi-Fi passes start at $16 for a 24-hour domestic day pass (valid on Gogo-equipped flights in North America).

Travelers flying internationally may opt for the $28, 24-hour global day pass, which is valid on one or more Gogo-equipped Delta flights regardless of the route.

Frequent fliers may prefer the domestic monthly or domestic annual pass ($49.95 and $599.99 respectively). Both allow unlimited Wi-Fi access to Gogo Wi-Fi when traveling on domestic flights.

Free In-flight Messaging

In September of 2017, Delta Air Lines announced that all customers flying on Wi-Fi enabled planes would be able to send basic texts (even those with emojis) via iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger for free.

A Wi-Fi purchase is not required for the complimentary messaging service, and there are no message or data charges, either. Notably, SMS is not supported. Video and photo messages will not be accepted.

How Delta Wi-Fi Works

Delta Wi-Fi uses a variety of signal technologies to provide travelers with a working Internet connection. In addition to the cheaper-but-slower ground-to-air option, where an antenna on the bottom of the plane communicates with existing cell towers on the ground, Delta is in the process of upgrading its fleet to use Ku band technology, where an antenna on the top of the plane communicates with satellites in orbit.

Not only can it deliver a signal strong enough to stream Netflix, but also Ku band technology is much more effective than ground-to-air when planes fly over bodies of water (or areas of land with no cell towers). It also maintains a signal throughout the entire flight. From the moment you board until the time you exit the plane, travelers can have seamless Wi-Fi connectivity. (No more having to wait for cruising altitude to access the in-flight Wi-Fi.)

Delta promises to eventually achieve 100 percent Ku band coverage on all its long-haul international flights. The airline is in the process of updating its remaining fleet with the technology. Over 98 percent of both A319 and 737-800 planes, and over 21 percent of the 737-900 planes, have been equipped with Ku band Wi-Fi.

Flights on A320, A321, A350, 717-200, 737-700, 757-200, 757-300, and MD-90 aircraft are still awaiting their Ku band upgrades, but nearly all have air-to-ground Wi-Fi technology, which provides service (albeit slower) where coverage is available.

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