(NEXSTAR) — Delta Air Lines will provide free Wi-Fi service on most of its U.S. flights starting in February.
The airline said Thursday that by the end of the year it will outfit more than 700 planes with high-speed, satellite-based broadband service from T-Mobile and plans to expand free Wi-Fi to international and Delta Connection flights by the end of 2024.
The service will use equipment from Viasat, a U.S.-based satellite broadband provider.
To take advantage of the free service, before boarding the plane passengers must join the company’s free frequent flyer program, SkyMiles. Once on the plane, you can log in using your SkyMiles number.
Many airlines are upgrading Internet access on their planes so passengers can stay connected or stream entertainment on their electronic devices. New York-based JetBlue Airways already provides free Wi-Fi service to passengers, but Delta’s announcement puts it ahead of its largest rivals: American, United and Southwest.
Delta made the announcement during the CES technology trade show in Las Vegas. CEO Ed Bastian said the airline is striving to make connectivity on board planes similar to what travelers experience on the ground.
“We didn’t just want free Wi-Fi to offer base-level service – we wanted it to be transformative for the entire onboard experience,” said Bastian. “It is imperative all customers onboard can enjoy their favorite content just as they would at home, and we’ve put this system through meticulous tests to make that possible.”
Spotty and slow in-flight browsing has long been a frustration for passengers, and costly, broken Wi-Fi was even included in a September 2022 proposed crackdown by the Biden Administration on “junk fees.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.