Which Airlines Offer Free Wi-Fi or Free Messaging (and Which Ones Make You Pay)
The number of Americans flying is finally back to its pre-pandemic numbers, meaning that on any given day, nearly two million people in the sky are mindlessly browsing apps that are still in airplane mode. However, several airlines are doing their part to improve the flight experience by offering the coveted free in-flight messaging or Wi-Fi. While these services are not yet an industry standard, here is a detailed description of what options are offered by the most popular airlines in the United States and at what cost (or at all).
Airlines Offering Free Wife and Free Messaging
JetBlue : JetBlue is the only major US airline to offer free unlimited Wi-Fi on all of its flights. In partnership with Viasat, JetBlue allows customers to not only surf the Internet and send messages, but also broadcast entertainment. In addition, all passengers are offered a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime Video if they are looking for entertainment. JetBlue is warning customers that due to weather and other factors, Wi-Fi may not necessarily be available for the duration of the flight.
Airlines that offer free messaging (but not free Wi-Fi)
Delta Airlines : Delta Airlines offers free messaging via iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, but customers hoping to use Wi-Fi will have to shell out. You can buy a one-time travel pass, the cost of which starts from $5, but depends on the route and duration of the flight; if you fly often enough, Delta also offers Wi-Fi at a monthly rate of $49.95 per month for domestic flights and $69.95 per month for international flights. Their paid Wi-Fi includes streaming capabilities, as they put it, push-to-park.
Alaska Airlines : Like Delta, Alaska Airlines also offers free messaging via iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and Whatsapp, although it notes that you can only send words and emoji in your messages; pictures and videos will not work. If you want to splurge, you can pay $8 for a basic Wi-Fi plan, but that only includes email and web browsing – streaming and downloading large attachments isn’t supported.
Southwest Airlines : Sorry Facebook Messenger users, Southwest Airlines only offers free messaging to those who use iMessage and WhatsApp, but they also offer free music through iHeartRadio. Wi-Fi is available for purchase for $8 per device.
United Airlines : United offers free messaging in the form of iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp and $10 Wi-Fi on domestic flights and also allows you to switch between devices. You are allowed to use video streaming services, but not voice or video calls.
Airlines that do not offer free Wi-Fi or free messaging
American Airlines: American Airlines does not offer free messaging, but customers can purchase Wi-Fi for $10 per device, including web browsing, email, and streaming services. For frequent flyers, American Airlines offers a monthly Wi-Fi subscription starting at $49.95 per month.
Spirit Airlines : Spirit Airlines offers Wi-Fi for purchase on their flights, but prices vary by route and duration. Please note that if you need streaming capabilities, you will have to purchase a specific streaming package.
Airlines that don’t offer Wi-Fi at all
Frontier Airlines : Asked why they don’t offer Wi-Fi, Frontier Airlines explains, “We’d rather save our customers and offer the lowest fares!” Fair.
Hawaiian Airlines : If you’re flying with Hawaiian Airlines, you won’t get free messaging. You won’t get free Wi-Fi. But as soon as you land in Hawaii, you get a free lei draped neatly around your neck, and isn’t that better than any message or TV show?