Whether it’s for business or simply because of a debatably unhealthy obsession, many of us struggle going more than a few minutes without Internet access. This can be particularly troublesome when traveling. When we’re heading home for the holidays, going on a business trip, or taking off on a summer vacation, we need to know which airlines do the most to keep us online while in the air.
Through painstaking research and expert data analysis, HighSpeedInternet.com put together a report of their exclusive rankings of the in-flight Wi-Fi offerings of domestic airlines.
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Top Domestic Airline Wi-Fi Services Overall
JetBlue offers the best overall in-flight Wi-Fi for personal travel. The biggest reason JetBlue tops the rankings is because when it’s available, it comes at no extra cost. JetBlue is the only airline in America that offers free in-flight Wi-Fi.
Along with being the most affordable, JetBlue’s in-flight Wi-Fi is also among the fastest; it’s tied with Delta and Virgin America at 15 Mbps. Southwest grabbed the second spot with a great balance of affordability and availability. It offers in-flight Wi-Fi on 90% of its ASM and charges just $8 per day.
Virgin America is the only airline in America offering in-flight Wi-Fi on 100% of its ASM. The downside to all that availability is that Virgin America’s in-flight Wi-Fi is the most expensive—it costs up to $25 per day.
Delta was a close second in availability, offering in-flight Wi-Fi on 98% of its ASM.
What is ASM?
The industry standard for measuring the total service capacity of an airline is Available Seat Miles (ASM). To calculate an airline’s ASM, multiply the total number of seats in its fleet of planes by the total number of miles the airline flies in a year. Availability statistic is the percentage of an airline’s ASM on which it offers Wi-Fi.
Delta, JetBlue, and Virgin America tied for the fastest in-flight Wi-Fi at a speed of 15 Mbps.
If you’re simply looking for the fastest in-flight Wi-Fi, you have several options. However, while Delta, JetBlue, and Virgin America all offer in-flight Wi-Fi up to 15 Mbps, they vary in price enormously.
1. Your first choice should be JetBlue because its in-flight Wi-Fi is free. But the service is available on only 78% of its ASM, so make sure it’s offered on the flight you want before you book the seat.
2. If JetBlue doesn’t work for you, Delta should be your next choice. It charges up to $16 per day for in-flight Wi-Fi, which it offers on 98% of its ASM.
3. Finally, if you can’t find a JetBlue or Delta flight that offers Wi-Fi and matches your travel time and destination, your next choice should be Virgin America. Getting Wi-Fi on Virgin America will cost you up to $25, but you’re sure to get the top speed offered.
Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Spirit Airlines don’t offer in-flight Wi-Fi. Despite being decently-sized domestic airlines, they don’t offer in-flight Wi-Fi services on any of their ASM.
Purchasing Wi-Fi directly from Gogo may be your best option. Four out of the seven airlines in the chart all get their Internet service from Gogo, an internet provider focused on in-flight service. You can subscribe to in-flight Internet service plans directly from Gogo, and you can use that subscription to access the Wi-Fi on Alaska Airlines, Delta, United, or Virgin America. (You can also use it on Air Canada flights, but we’re focusing on US airlines for this piece.)
Gogo offers an array of in-flight Internet service plans that vary in duration, coverage area, and even the number of devices you plan to connect. If you travel a lot—especially through cities whose airports service a high volume of flights from Gogo’s participating airlines—Gogo plans may be more cost-effective than purchasing in-flight Wi-Fi service from the airlines themselves. This may also help you avoid the per-flight Wi-Fi fees charged by Virgin America and United.
Top Domestic Airline Wi-Fi Services for Business Travel
When traveling for business, out-of-pocket cost isn’t as high of a concern. If you’re an employee, your company will likely be footing the bill. And if you’re a business owner, paying for reliable in-flight Internet could keep your employees productive while traveling. After all, you gotta spend money to make money!
Virgin America ranks number one for in-flight Wi-Fi when traveling for business. With the top speed and availability, Virgin Airlines is the best choice for business travelers who need in-flight Wi-Fi. You’re virtually guaranteed to have Wi-Fi on any domestic flight, and the speeds are as good as you’ll find. With this great option, your productivity will be taking off shortly after your plane does.
If you don’t have Virgin America as an airline option, Delta is a great second choice. It offers in-flight Wi-Fi that’s just as fast as Virgin America’s and less expensive. The only reason it ranks behind Virgin America is because it’s not quite as available across all of Delta’s ASM.