4 Ways to Get Free Wi-Fi on Your Next Flight

4 Ways to Get Free Wi-Fi on Your Next Flight

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For those planning to stay connected or get work done in the air, the costs of in-flight Wi-Fi can really add up, with airlines charging by the hour or offering a number of paid plans. Needless to say, having to shell out extra for Wi-Fi during a flight can be a real pain for leisure travelers and quickly become a major expense for frequent business travelers.

Luckily, there are several ways to circumvent these extra charges, with more airlines offering passengers free Wi-Fi access than ever before. Delta Air Lines made news in November when it began offering free inflight Wi-Fi to all members of the Delta SkyMiles loyalty program, making it the first US carrier to do so. JetBlue, meanwhile, continues to be the only US-based airline to offer free high-speed Wi-Fi (via its Fly-Fi service) to all of its customers.

Turns out there are other ways to avoid pesky Wi-Fi charges. Below, Select breaks down the best ways to avoid in-flight Wi-Fi costs on your next trip, whether it’s flying with certain airlines, signing up for travel rewards credit cards that include as a perk, maintaining elite status, traveling in premium class, or simply having the right cell phone provider.

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Fly with airlines that offer free Wi-Fi

National airlines

As mentioned above, Delta Air Lines is now offering free in-flight Wi-Fi to all Delta SkyMiles members traveling on Viasat-equipped aircraft. All you need to do is create a free account via the website – if you don’t already have one – then, once on board, simply log in with your Skymiles number and password.

The move is part of an ongoing trial of the carrier’s Viasat-enabled aircraft – namely Delta’s A321, 737-900ER and 757-200 aircraft – and follows free Wi-Fi offered to travelers with Delta Medallion status. . If you do not wish to register for a Skymiles account, you will be required to pay a $5 fee to access in-flight Wi-Fi, per device.

Otherwise, JetBlue remains the only US carrier to offer free Wi-Fi to all passengers on all its flights, regardless of loyalty program membership, status or route, through its Fly-Fi service. Hawaiian Airlines also plans to launch free in-flight Wi-Fi in 2023 through its partnership with SpaceX’s SkyLink.

American Airlines also appears to be testing free Wi-Fi on several of its Viasat-equipped planes – in an ongoing trial, passengers who choose to watch a sponsored video can access 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi.

Other US-based carriers, such as Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines, allow passengers to send and receive messages for free via WhatsApp and iMessage – Alaska Airlines also allows the use of Facebook Messenger – while Free Wi-Fi is available on Southwest flights for A-List Preferred frequent flyer program members.

It’s also worth noting that United Airlines allows members of its MileagePlus loyalty program to redeem 1,600 United miles instead of paying the usual $8 fee for in-flight Wi-Fi ($10 for non-members). on national and international short-haul routes to Canada and Mexico. If you have United miles to burn, this could be an easy way to get around by paying extra to stay connected during your flight.

International Airlines

On the international airline side, Air New Zealand and Qantas – on the B737-800 and A330-200 thanks to a partnership with Viasat – each offer free Wi-Fi on domestic flights in their respective countries (New Zealand and Australia). Nok Air, a low-cost airline based in Thailand, also offers free Wi-Fi on board its Boeing 737 flights, while Japan Airlines allows its passengers to redeem 2,000 miles for an in-flight Wi-Fi voucher. for use on international flights. .

Some international operators offer free Wi-Fi, but with certain conditions. On China Eastern Airlines and its subsidiary Shanghai Airlines, for example, a free trial of in-flight Wi-Fi is only available to the first 100 travelers who check in up to 30 days before the actual flight, while on short flights in Europe, on board In Norwegian Air’s 737-800 aircraft, passengers enjoy 15 minutes of free Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi offerings vary widely by airline, flight path, and type of technology currently offered by the carrier. So be sure to check their website for the latest information before you go.

Consider your credit card benefits

Many airline credit cards offer statement credits to reimburse you for Wi-Fi charges incurred while flying with their associated carriers.

Other travel rewards cards offer annual travel credits or airline fee credits to cover in-flight expenses, such as Wi-Fi.

Two important things to note: For the American Express cards listed above, you must choose a preferred airline each year and register in advance. For Bank of America cards, only flights on US-based carriers or travel originating in the US count towards receiving airline fee credits.

Maintain your elite status or fly in premium classes

If you have elite status with carriers such as Southwest Airlines, Emirates, Icelandair, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, or Scandinavian Airlines, among others, you can enjoy free messaging or Wi-Fi access, although each airline has limits on time spent online. , the amount of data you use and the number of devices, so check before you fly.

Alternatively, if you are able to book Business Class or First Class flights when traveling internationally, this could be another way to avoid additional charges for in-flight Wi-Fi. Just be aware that the amount of free Wi-Fi you’ll actually get and the number of devices you’re allowed to use varies greatly by airline, fare class, flight duration and current internet capabilities on board the aircraft. plane, so check ahead just in case.

Use this T-Mobile customer advantage

If T-Mobile or Sprint is your current mobile carrier, you’re in luck, especially if you have an active Magenta MAX or Magenta plan. Those with Magenta MAX (or Sprint MAX, Unlimited Plus, or Premium) plans can get unlimited in-flight texting, streaming, and Wi-Fi on select Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines flights that offer Gogo Internet service. in flight, and some United Airlines aircraft equipped with Viasat or Thales technology.

Customers with Magenta, Simple Choice, Select Choice, ONE, T-Mobile prepaid plans, as well as several Sprint plans – Sprint ONE, Unlimited Freedom, Everything Data Share, Sprint Unlimited, Affordable Choice and Unlimited Savings, among others – are eligible to receive free in-flight SMS plus Wi-Fi and streaming on four flights per year, plus one hour of in-flight Wi-Fi and streaming on additional flights.

Either way, make sure your T-Mobile or Sprint phone is updated to the latest software, a current e911 address is listed on your account, and make at least one Wi-Fi call with your SIM card before to leave. Once on board, make sure your phone is in airplane mode and your Wi-Fi calling and Wi-Fi features are turned on. Next, choose the airline’s Wi-Fi network and sign in on the Wi-Fi homepage using your T-Mobile or Sprint phone number.

At the end of the line

While it might seem tempting to just shell out the $8 or $10 it takes to get your in-flight Wi-Fi fix, keep in mind that there are several things you can do to avoid those charges. By opting for airlines such as JetBlue or Delta Air Lines that already offer free Wi-Fi, using certain credit cards or mobile operators, flying in premium classes or maintaining elite status, you can easily erase these costs from your travel budget and put that money toward your trip instead.

Before applying for a new credit card, don’t forget to check your credit score, make sure you’ll be able to use all the benefits enough to justify paying the annual fee (especially if it’s higher ) and ensure that you are able to meet all minimum spending requirements to earn a welcome bonus responsibly.

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card Information, Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Elite Credit Card, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Alaska Airlines® Credit Card and CitiBusiness® Mastercard® Card / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® were independently collected by CNBC and were not reviewed or provided by the card issuer prior to publication.

Editorial note: Any opinions, analyses, criticisms or recommendations expressed in this article are those of Select’s editorial staff alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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