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Delta Air Lines already offers among the best in-cabin experiences of any U.S. airline out there, but it’s about to get even better.
The airline announced all Delta SkyMiles members, including folks who don’t have elite status, will have access to free Wi-Fi on most of its flights as of Feb. 1, 2023. Passengers will even be able to sign up for Delta SkyMiles onboard if they don’t already have an account.
Come February, the free Wi-Fi will be offered on about 500 Delta mainline aircraft used for domestic flights. By the end of the year, Delta says more than 700 of its aircraft will offer it, and that figure will grow as extends the service to international and regional jets by the end of 2024.
The move extends a partnership between Delta and T-Mobile, where free Wi-Fi was already available for T-Mobile customers. Now anyone — regardless of their affiliation with T-Mobile — will have access, as long as they sign up for Delta SkyMiles.
The Delta SkyMiles loyalty program is free to join and involves handing over a bit of personal information such as name and email address. Joining the program also allows members to start earning Delta SkyMiles to redeem for award flights, as well as extra Delta SkyMiles earning opportunities with Starbucks and Lyft.
People who elect not to join can still purchase Wi-Fi for a flat rate of $10 per device per flight.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
How Delta’s Wi-Fi offerings compare to other airlines
The news adds Delta to only a small handful of airlines that offer free Wi-Fi to all passengers. Of the major U.S. airlines, JetBlue is the only other major carrier that provides free Wi-Fi for all passengers. Both Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines offer free messaging through some services including iMessage and WhatsApp, something Delta also already offers.
NerdWallet also recently named its top airline and hotel rewards programs of 2023, which ranks travel providers based on factors including service, loyalty program and value.
One of the criteria that airlines are judged on is in-flight entertainment. JetBlue won first place for best in-flight experience for its free Wi-fi, seatback USB power outlets, brand-name snacks and seatback screens. But this news could propel Delta higher in next year’s rankings.
Delta was already in second place this year, thanks to in-flight delights such as seatback screens with plenty of free movies, complimentary Starbucks coffee and Biscoff cookies. The primary reason Delta didn’t win gold this time around was its lack of free Wi-Fi.
While it’s a little too late to change its standings in this year’s awards, Delta is looking to be a contender for gold in 2024, assuming the free Wi-Fi rollout goes smoothly.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
(Featured photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines)