What You Need to Know Before Buying In-Flight Wi-Fi
Last updated September 12, 2023
Working in-flight is a hallmark of the business traveler. Most airlines offer monthly or annual in-flight Wi-Fi plans for frequent flyers. But for those who hop on a plane every now and again for a business conference, or fly a variety of airlines, do those plans make sense?
How Does In-Flight Wi-Fi Work?
In-flight Wi-Fi is now available on most domestic flights. Usually Wi-Fi can be purchased prior to your flight or while on-board, and is limited to a single device. Similar to personal televisions in the seat back, Wi-Fi is often disabled during takeoff and landing to ensure passenger focus and safety.
But in-flight Wi-Fi is also often tiered. Many domestic airlines have an in-air portal that tracks your flight, enables Facebook Messenger, iMessage and WhatsApp, and offers a small library of TV shows and movies to stream – all for free. Only when passengers want to email, scroll social, browse the Internet, and text media (like photos or videos) will the need to pay for upgraded in-flight Wi-Fi.
The Southwest in-flight entertainment portal
In-Flight Wi-Fi Costs
American Airlines In-Flight Wi-Fi Costs
American Airlines Wi-Fi costs are scaled to flight duration, usually costing between $10-35 per flight.
For frequent domestic travelers, a monthly subscription is $49.95/month or a whopping $599/year, but you have to be an AAdvantage member to qualify.
Delta Air Lines In-Flight Wi-Fi Costs
Delta Air Lines offers free Wi-Fi on most domestic flights to all Delta SkyMiles members (you can even enroll during your flight). On planes that don’t have free Wi-Fi, passengers pay $7 for a one-hour pass, or $19 for a day pass. Monthly domestic subscriptions are $49.95.
Southwest Airlines In-Flight Wi-Fi Costs
Southwest’s in-flight Wi-Fi pricing is refreshingly simple: $8 per device from takeoff to landing. Full stop.
United Airlines In-Flight Wi-Fi Costs
Wi-Fi costs on United Airlines “depend on where you’re headed and how long your flight is.” Per-flight pricing starts at $8 for MileagePlus members and $10 for everyone else. On United, you can also use frequent flyer miles to “buy” Wi-Fi. Day passes and monthly subscriptions are available (the latter priced at $49/7500 miles).
JetBlue Airways In-Flight Wi-Fi Costs
JetBlue offers free, high-speed Wi-Fi at every seat, on every plane!
Spirit In-Flight Wi-Fi Costs
Sprit tiers their Wi-Fi service depending on how fast a connection you want. “Browsing” speed Wi-Fi starts at $3.99, whereas “streaming” speeds starts at $6.99.
Frontier Airlines In-Flight Wi-Fi Costs
Uniquely, Frontier doesn’t offer Wi-Fi, TV, movies, or other in-flight entertainment – all in service of cheaper fares.
Is In-Flight Wi-Fi Worth It?
If your travel plans involve multiple legs, and you plan on emailing during your flight, it makes sense to explore day passes. It may also be cheaper to enroll in a monthly pass (so long as you remember to cancel it), than to buy a flight-pass for every leg of your trip. But given the availability of in-air portals, most business travelers can work their inbox “offline” and await their destination.
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