Wi-Fi on Planes – How Wired is Your Airline?

A new report highlighted by Consumerist spells out which airlines have the most Wi-Fi on planes – and Virgin America and AirTran are the only carriers that can boast Wi-Fi on every plane – but there’s also new information on who wants it, what we do with it, and why so many think it costs too darn much.

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Airlines with Most Wi-Fi

According to a survey by RouteHappy, the following airlines are among those that’ll give you a good shot at using your laptop or tablet on a flight.

  • Virgin America – 100% of fleet wired
  • AirTran – 100% of fleet wired
  • Southwest – 74% of fleet wired
  • Delta – 65% of its fleet wired

However, there are a couple of things that must be pointed out: Virgin America only offers 173 flights, while Delta has Wi-Fi on more than 3,400 flights. Plus, Southwest’s percentage of Wi-Fi flights will obviously increase once it’s merger with AirTran nears completion.

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But Are There Any Power Outlets?

Another consideration especially for flyers on long-haul trips: power outlets. If the battery on your laptop or tablet dies, what good is Wi-Fi? As Consumerist notes, “Only four carriers – Virgin, Delta, American, United – have flights that offer both Wi-Fi and in-seat outlets. And not all flights on these carriers have outlets.” That could be a problem, if you want to work.

Elite Flyers Want Wi-Fi

And apparently, many do want to work – or at least, many of the passengers that the airlines treasure above all others: business travelers. They are valued for one very simple reason: People who fly for business tend to buy tickets at the last minute and those are tickets are expensive, often three or even four times more than fares bought before the standard two-week in advance cut-off. And if these travelers choose to fly first or business class, it’s just the icing on the cake. So watch for more Wi-Fi on more planes even though you may not see all that many devices in use on your next flight.

The Cost of Wi-Fi

Cost of Wi-Fi can vary from airline to airline and by the length of session purchased, but prices tend to start anywhere from about $5 to $12. Again, a relatively small number of passengers seem inclined to make that investment, but that could change now that the FAA is signaling that it will lift its ban on devices off during take-offs and landings.

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Published: June 26, 2013