Wi-Fi on Planes: Which Airlines have Wi-Fi and What it Costs
Published by Anne McDermott on November 21, 2013
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
- 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.
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Inflight Wi-Fi is not currently available on any Hawaiian planes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Inflight Wi-Fi is not currently available on any Spirit planes.
- 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.
- 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.