The days of expensive Wi-Fi onboard commercial airlines seem to be over.
Over the last year, many U.S.-based airlines have announced reductions in their prices and improvements to their connectivity, making it cheaper and faster to work or browse at altitude.
Last week, Alaska Airlines became the latest to take action when it announced that it will be offering its Wi-Fi service for a flat rate of $8 per flight. The lower pricing also comes with speeds up to 20 times faster than the old Wi-Fi system.
Previously, the price of Wi-Fi was determined by the length and distance of the flight, and was charged on a sliding scale or by the hour. This will still be the case on some Alaska Airlines flights. Around 80% of its aircraft are equipped with satellite-enabled connectivity and offer the new flat rate of $8; but the remaining 20% of the flights will still go by the old system and pricing (for now).
Alaska’s announcement follows an industry trend of improving Wi-Fi connectivity and pricing throughout the airline industry. Delta, for example, began offering $5 full-flight Wi-Fi passes late last year on some of its planes, with the CEO on record as saying he wants to provide free in-flight Internet within the next few years.
JetBlue is already there and has blown the rest of the industry away in this regard – it’s been offering free Wi-Fi on flights since 2017.
Southwest Airlines offers a flat rate of $8 for Wi-Fi usage, but unlike other airlines who charge per flight, this pass is good for the entire day – i.e. all your connecting flights.
United now sells Wi-Fi for $8 per flight for its MileagePlus Members ($10 for non-members), and American comes in around $10 per flight as well.
Of course, you don’t need to buy the Wi-Fi pass to watch movies and television on most carriers, as they can be watched via your smartphone for free.
But, if you need to get work done or simply want to browse the Web, it’s now more affordable than ever. And, if we’re lucky, it will move to being completely free in the next few years.