Wi-Fi on Planes: Which Airlines have Wi-Fi and What it Costs

Ever since the FAA announced it would allow the use of small portable electronic devices during all phases of flight – from take-off to landing – airlines have been quick to say, they're onboard with this, too.

Listen:Travel expert Rick Seaney on how the new FAA rule will work (and how it won't).

Airline Wi-Fi Limitations

However, as many media reports have pointed out, most airlines can't offer a seamless experience yet because they rely on "Wi-Fi services that use air-to-ground towers similar to cellphones" and these services (like Gogo) are designed to be powered up at 10,000 feet.

Southwest's New Gate-to-Gate Wi-Fi

However, Southwest Airlines uses the satellite-based Row44 system which means gate-to-gate access. Others may eventually be able to duplicate this feat but for now, Southwest alone offers a seamless experience for U.S. travelers. However, Wi-Fi is not yet available on every Southwest plane.

What is Still Forbidden

Don't forget:

  • Devices larger than a tablet (such as a laptop) must still be stowed during take-off and landing.
  • All devices in use must remain in airplane mode.
  • And when it comes to cell phone calls during flights, see which airlines allow you to call from the sky.

Airline Wi-Fi Guide: List

Click the airline name for more information. Note: Prices and services can (and do) change without notice so always check with the airline.

Alaska

  • Powered by Gogo, available on "almost all" aircraft in the lower 48 states and "specific areas in Alaska."
  • What it costs: Price options range from $1.95 to $39.95 (includes day passes and various subscription options).

American

  • Powered by Gogo, American says it offers Wi-Fi on "nearly all U.S. flights."
  • What it costs: Prices range from $14 and up (including day-passes and bundled options).

Delta

  • Powered by Gogo, Wi-Fi is not available on all flights (check reservations for availability).
  • What it costs: Prices vary by flight length starting at $4.99. Day passes are $14, monthly subscriptions $39.95. Wi-Fi for tablets and smartphones is $1.95, provided the flight is less than two hours un duration.

Frontier 

  • Powered by Gogo, Wi-Fi is available only on Frontier's Embraer 190 aircraft.
  • What it costs: Prices vary based on length of flight. A monthly pass is available for $24.95.

Hawaiian

  • Inflight Wi-Fi is not currently available on any Hawaiian planes.

JetBlue

  • JetBlue has free Wi-Fi on all planes, meant for checking emails and simple web browsing. A pay-per-hour plan is also available for those who want to stream movies or need a higher bandwidth.
  • What it costs: Free, but a $9 per-hour plan is available with up to 12 megabytes per second.

Southwest

  • Powered by Row44, available on 430+ Wi-Fi equipped planes (together, Southwest and AirTran – which announced their merger a few years back – have almost 700 aircraft).
  • What it costs: $8 a day (plus an additional $5 per movie). iMessage for Apple users is available for $2, so travelers can text from the plane.

Spirit

  • Inflight Wi-Fi is not currently available on any Spirit planes.

United

  • Powered by Gogo, but the airline is reportedly "transitioning to satellite-based Wi-Fi on international flights". Wi-Fi is not available on all flights but United's website says it upgrades its fleet on an ongoing basis.
  • What it costs: Pricing varies. Passengers learn the specific fee during the booking process.

Virgin America

  • Powered by Gogo, onboard Wi-Fi service is available on flights throughout the U.S. The airline also offers power outlets at every seat as well as seat-back screens with free entertainment.
  • What it costs: Prices range from $4.95 to $34.95.
Anne McDermott
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