Will Frontier Airlines Ever Offer Inflight Wi-Fi?
Frontier Airlines does not currently offer wireless Internet onboard any of its aircraft, making it one of the few remaining carriers in the United States (along with Spirit Airlines) without any Wi-Fi options for travelers.
According to Frontier's website, the airline “would rather pass the cost-savings on [to] customers and offer the lowest possible fares."
Right now, it's difficult — and expensive — to transfer data to an object hurtling through the sky at 550 miles per hour. Of course, inflight Wi-Fi has notoriously been a miserably slow "amenity" that makes even sending a simple e-mail an arduous task.
Technology for inflight Wi-Fi is rapidly improving, however. Gogo recently introduced upgraded 2Ku technology to make it possible to actually do things online — like stream Netflix. And until connectivity really catches up with travelers' needs, there's a Google Chrome browser extension that helps web pages load up to four times faster.
But for many low-cost airlines like Frontier, the decision is still between mediocre inflight Wi-Fi for a high expense, or no Wi-Fi for no expense. And business travelers who desperately need gate to gate Internet are rarely flying with a regional budget carrier, making the choice easy for Frontier.
How Does Frontier Save Money Without Wi-Fi?
Airlines can connect passengers with inflight Wi-Fi using two different methods: air-to-ground transmission, (which connects planes with cell towers on land), and satellite transmission (which connects planes with satellites orbiting the planet).
Both methods — though oriented in opposite directions — use antennas. Wi-Fi antennas are located on the plane’s exterior, which creates drag, or increased air resistance. It’s a small change, but it adds up. More drag means slower planes that will consume more fuel and cost a greater sum to operate.
And that’s not even getting into the upfront costs of installation, much less maintenance.
As technology changes, inflight Wi-Fi may become a cost-neutral (or potentially money-making) decision for Frontier Airlines. But don’t hold your breath.