Delta Air Lines aims to roll out best in class high-speed WiFi across the bulk of its mainline domestic fleet by the end of 2022. If that sounds like a long time away, the Atlanta-based airline is eyeing equipping 300 of its planes with improved high-speed satellite connectivity by the end of 2021.
Delta breaks with Gogo, jumps into bed with Viasat
WiFi connectivity on Delta’s domestic aircraft will soon be provided by Viasat, a well-regarded provider of high-speed satellite broadband services and secure networking systems. Delta Air Lines already provides WiFi access across most of its aircraft containing two or more cabin classes. To date, Gogo has provided WiFi on Delta aircraft. But the airline is looking to upgrade.
“Technology and entertainment are key parts of our customers’ lives,” says Delta’s Byron Merritt. “By equipping our fleet with enhanced WiFi capabilities, we are taking steps to ensure we can adapt to the different ways our customers will use technology during their journey both today and in the future.”
Integral to Delta’s upgraded WiFi product is the new Delta Portal Platform. The airline is calling this “the front page to the onboard experience.” The Delta Portal Platform will allow passengers to connect, purchase, browse and stream from their device of choice.
Delta Air Lines says WiFi access on Viasat-enabled aircraft will cost US$8 per flight, whether it is a fast run between Boston and Washington DC or a longer haul flight between New York and Anchorage. Simple Flying has approached Delta to see if this charge will apply to top tier Delta loyalists and premium cabin passengers. There was a previous hope Delta would offer the Viasat WiFi service for free to all passengers.
The Delta Portal Platform will also give passengers free access to the complimentary messaging presently available and Delta.com services.
First Viasat WiFi-enabled Delta plane to enter service in May
Delta’s first Viasat-enabled aircraft, a new Airbus A321ceo, will enter regular service on May 1. The airline will use this plane as a technological guinea pig. They’ll iron out any kinks and get the new technology working seamlessly.
By June, more Viasat WiFi-enabled A321ceos will join Delta’s fleet. By the end of the year, Delta hopes to have its entire Boeing 737-900 and 757-200 fleets outfitted with the upgraded WiFi technology. Including the 757-200s in the upgrade suggests Delta isn’t quite ready to retire those planes anytime soon.
“The need for reliable and fast connectivity has never been more important,” Delta’s statement on the rollout says.
Delta wants a consistent WiFi product across its mainline domestic fleet
Delta Air Lines says its new WiFi platform and its access portal will continue to evolve as technology improves and passenger expectations increase. Importantly, the airline also says the Delta Portal Platform will allow a unified and consistent WiFi experience across Delta’s mainline domestic fleet. Inconsistent product and service offerings across various aircraft in any airline’s fleet are bugbears for many passengers.
Delta Air Lines has made a significant effort with its IFE systems on domestic services in recent years. Except for its 717 fleet, the airline has installed seatback IFE screens across its mainline domestic fleets. That provides various options to while away the longest domestic flight.
This includes live satellite TV access, messaging services, and podcasts. Delta’s upgraded onboard WiFi product complements the improved IFE nicely. The airline says the new WiFi rollout is part of a suite of upgrades undertaken across the airline to step up its inflight product.
This article originally appeared on Simple Flying