May 9 2019  |  Inflight Entertainment

Delta trials free inflight Wi-Fi

By Rachel Debling

On May 13, Delta Air Lines will begin a two-week pilot of free Wi-Fi on its high-speed 2Ku Wi-Fi-equipped aircraft.

According to a May 9 blog posted by the airline, this is the first step toward upgrading Delta's inflight entertainment and connectivity options across its fleet.

The test, which will launch on around 55 daily flight segments, won't support streaming but will allow passengers to browse, email, shop, message and engage with social media, among other activities.

Ekrem Dimbiloglu, Delta's Director of Onboard Product, was quoted as saying: "Customers are accustomed to having access to free Wi-Fi during nearly every other aspect of their journey, and Delta believes it should be free when flying, too. Testing will be key to getting this highly complex program right – this takes a lot more creativity, investment and planning to bring to life than a simple flip of a switch."

The trial period is intended to gauge customer experience preferences, system performance and customer feedback. Several more test phases will likely take place in the future, Dimbiloglu estimated, to ensure it is a worthwhile, value-added product.

"As with any test in uncharted territory, Delta will rely heavily on customer and employee feedback to navigate how to best make free inflight Wi-Fi a reality," Dimbiloglu said.

Customers will be notified by Delta if they're being tapped for the test via email and a Fly Delta app push notification prior to their flight and upon visiting the Wi-Fi portal on board. Flight test segments will change daily.

Wi-Fi is available on nearly all domestic and international Delta flights; 60% of its mainline aircraft have high-speed 2Ku installed. Over the course of the trial, Wi-Fi for purchase and free mobile messaging will remain available.

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