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Which Airlines Have Free Wi-Fi? And Which Will Charge You to Stay Connected?



If you’re the type of traveler who must stay connected to the internet at all times, it makes sense to factor in the cost of Wi-Fi into the overall price of a flight before booking.

Flyers may find that a carrier that looks cheap at first glance ends up being far more expensive because of the many unbundled extra fees for stuff like seat selection, luggage, and, yes, Wi-Fi. Those charges can add up, sending the overall price for travel soaring. 

With that in mind, here’s a look at what all the major U.S. carriers charge (or don’t charge) for different types of Wi-Fi, along with what the customers of certain cell phone networks can expect.

Airlines with Free Wi-Fi for All

JetBlue

In 2013, JetBlue became the first U.S. carrier to offer free Wi-Fi on flights, though it wasn’t until 2017 that JetBlue expanded the perk to all domestic routes.

No membership is necessary to use the service—you don’t even have to enroll in JetBlue’s loyalty program. Simply look for the Fly-Fi network on your device’s drop-down Wi-Fi menu, and sign in from there.

With JetBlue, Wi-Fi should be available from departure gate to arrival gate. Unlike other carriers, JetBlue’s system doesn’t stay dormant until the plane reaches 10,000 feet.

JetBlue offers seat-back screens on flights, so you can access entertainment that way. But the carrier also has a partnership with Amazon’s Prime Video that guarantees quality streaming on personal devices of the TV shows and movies on that platform. It’s possible to stream content from other platforms to your own device on JetBlue, though sometimes the connection will be too slow to watch without buffering glitches.

The carrier guarantees connectivity over the contiguous United States, as well as expanded coverage to most of the international destinations JetBlue serves.  

Because JetBlue was a Wi-Fi pioneer, its service isn’t state of the art, and that can lead to outages. On my last two domestic JetBlue flights, I was never able to connect. The flight attendant told me the issue is common.

Delta Air Lines

In 2023, Delta joined JetBlue in offering free Wi-Fi to passengers. Powered by T-Mobile, Delta’s system works on all domestic U.S. flights, and is expected to be available on all international flights by the end of 2024.

To join for free, passengers must be either T-Mobile customers or Delta SkyMiles members. Enrollment in the latter program is free, and you can join on your own device during the course of a flight.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian claims his airline’s Wi-Fi will be speedier than that of rival carriers. In a 2023 speech at the CES trade show in Las Vegas, Bastian said, “We didn’t just want free Wi-Fi to offer base-level service—we wanted it to be transformative for the entire onboard experience. It is imperative all customers onboard can enjoy their favorite content just as they would at home, and we’ve put this system through meticulous tests to make that possible.”

(I have not yet tested Delta’s new service, so I can’t comment on how speedy it actually is.)

Airlines That Charge for Wi-Fi (and How to Get Around Paying)

Note that all of the airlines below offer annual plans, as well as per-flight options. I’ve listed the per-flight costs below.

Many carriers also offer free or discounted Wi-Fi to those who have the airline’s branded credit cards. But having an airline-branded card often isn’t the best way to rack up travel points, so I don’t recommend going that route for free Wi-Fi access. (To see the travel credit cards we do recommend, click here.)

Alaska Airlines

  • Wi-Fi availability: on most flights
  • Cost: $8–$25, depending on itinerary length (most flights are $8)
  • Details: Some flights have only Basic Wi-Fi, which will get you on the internet but won’t be strong enough to stream video. If streaming is important to you, make sure the flight you’re booking has “Streaming-Fast Satellite Wi-Fi” listed in the flight’s details page. Note that some of the airline’s 737-9 Max planes do not have Wi-Fi yet, though the airline says it’s in the process of fixing that. Additionally, there may be areas where connectivity is interrupted (the Arctic Circle is a common outage zone).
  • Freebies: Texting is free on Alaska. Likewise for streaming entertainment from Alaska’s catalog of TV shows and movies. Since Alaska’s service is provided by T-Mobile, subscribers to that phone service get free Wi-Fi.

American Airlines

  • Wi-Fi availability: on most flights
  • Cost: $10–$35, depending on itinerary length
  • Details: On certain flights, American will offer a free 20 to 30 minutes of Wi-Fi in return for watching a few advertisements. However, the flights that offer this service never let travelers know before the flight—so don’t count on it.
  • Freebies: Texting is free on American, and so is streaming TV shows and films from American Airlines. All Wi-Fi is free for T-Mobile subscribers.

Southwest Airlines

  • Wi-Fi availability: on most domestic flights and some international ones
  • Cost: $8
  • Details: Southwest’s Wi-Fi won’t support all types of content. According to the airline’s website, “We block access to certain high-bandwidth applications, websites, and video conferencing services. In consideration of the public environment onboard, we also block potentially offensive content.”
  • Freebies: On flights that have Wi-Fi, Southwest allows all passengers to access its entertainment portal for free. This gives users access to a flight tracker, movies, TV series on demand, and live TV3. Texting is also available at no charge. 

Spirit Airlines

  • Wi-Fi availability: systemwide
  • Cost: starts at $3 for texting and browsing, $6 for streaming; prices go up on longer flights
  • Details: Spirit claims to have the fastest Wi-Fi of all U.S. carriers, but that depends on which service you buy. According to the airline’s website, “You can expect speeds of 7-10Mbps with the Streaming plan and slower speeds from the Browsing option.” Don’t get too excited: On land, the average Wi-Fi speed in the U.S. is 73Mbps. As with JetBlue, Spirit Wi-Fi is available gate-to-gate (rather than kicking in over 10,000 feet only).
  • Freebies: Spirit doesn’t really do freebies. So you’ll only get access to a flight tracker app and Spirit’s marketing copy before having to shell out.

United Airlines

  • Wi-Fi availability: on most flights
  • Cost: On domestic flights and service to Canada and Mexico, Wi-Fi is $8 for MileagePlus members, $10 for everyone else. Prices on flights to other international destinations are higher.
  • Details: United works with four Wi-Fi providers: Gogo, Panasonic, Thales, and ViaSat. Each provides different coverage; which one you’ll get depends on where in the world you’re flying (to see coverage maps, click here).
  • Freebies: T-Mobile customers get free Wi-Fi. For other customers, United offers free messaging on WhatsApp and iMessage.

Airlines That Don’t Have Wi-Fi

If you must be connected to the internet in flight, you’ll want to avoid Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines.

Hawaiian did announce in 2022 that it was partnering with Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet service to provide Wi-Fi to passengers. But the service has yet to materialize, and there’s been no word on when it will. Maybe Musk has been too busy with Twitter. We’ll leave you to make your own jokes. 



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