Here’s some very welcome news: Delta Air Lines announced a partnership with satellite broadband provider Viasat for inflight Wi-Fi services. The product is expected to roll out across select narrowbody aircraft this coming summer.
Gogo Going, Going, Gone?
Many of us are familiar with the Gogo inflight Wi-Fi on Delta flights.
But the Gogo experience was spotty and erratic — at best. Connection speeds varied between good to non-existent. If the service were free, that’s one thing. But when we’re usually paying $19-$29 a day, sub-par performance really isn’t acceptable. Many business travelers need inflight Wi-Fi — and a great way to irritate those customers is to give them a slow Internet product.
René and a group of readers visited Gogo’s Chicago production warehouse a few years ago. The Gogo staff was great and welcoming. We got to learn more about their 2Ku product.
But speeds seemed to drag during the past few years. People dubbed the service “GoSlow,” “SlowGo,” “NoGo,” or other creative, snarky terms.
And Gogo really didn’t help their cause when the annual ten free passes were dropped as a benefit of the Business Platinum Card from American Express.
However, Glenn Latta, Delta’s Managing Director – In-Flight Entertainment & Wi-Fi, said, “To meet our long-term goals, we will work closely with multiple Wi-Fi suppliers, including both Gogo and Viasat. Working with multiple partners means we can pair the right technology with the right fleet. We want to ensure customers always have access to Wi-Fi when available.”
I freely admit that using the Internet while flying on an airplane is a pretty cool privilege. As long as the inflight WiFi works to a reasonable degree, I really don’t care who provides it.
WiFi Via Viasat
Today, Delta announced it’d introduce “Fast Wi-Fi, a new user interface and personalized content” later this year.
Mr. Latta said:
Viasat’s high-speed satellite-powered technology changes the game for what we can offer. We now have additional capability and next-gen technology to make sure you have a faster and more consistent connection to your favorite sites, including the ability to stream the entertainment of your choice on your flight. It also lays the groundwork for future enhancements and personalization with the seatback screen that customers will love.
Coming this summer, the Delta-developed Wi-Fi access portal is an interface that integrates in-flight Wi-Fi and other day-of-travel features under one roof. It is built to work with Viasat and acts as the front page to your experience – the first thing that will greet you as you connect to the onboard Wi-Fi.
At launch, you will have the opportunity to purchase Wi-Fi access and still enjoy free mobile messaging and access your favorite Delta.com services, with much more planned in the future. It gives us an interface to build on and is a dramatic step toward giving you great connectivity, personalized content and easy-to-use services that will improve your in-flight experience.
Part of me wonders if that’ll somehow be tied into the Fly Delta app or My Delta — and sync across to your assigned seat. Kind of like how your Apple ID syncs information to a Mac computer, iPad, and iPhone. (Though, logistically, that could present headaches. Again, I’m just wondering.)
Wait — So It’s Not Free?
A couple of years ago, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said the airline plans to roll out a free WiFi platform for passengers.
Little did he (or anyone) know that a global pandemic would crush lives and businesses.
So I certainly can’t fault Delta for not giving us free onboard Internet yet. Delta did acknowledge in today’s announcement that free Wi-Fi is still in the airline’s plans.
When and Where Will Viasat Be Available on Delta Flights?
The rollout is expected sometime this summer. The first Delta aircraft to feature the Viasat Internet will be A321ceo, 737-900ER, and some 757-200 planes. Mr. Latta notes that’ll be over 300 aircraft.
I expect that if everything goes well with those planes, we’ll see the Viasat expand across the fleet.
I’m very happy with this announcement — and it makes me more eager to get back on Delta jets! I may even go out of my way to make sure my itineraries include some flights on the planes equipped with Viasat.
Now, I’m just waiting for the all inflight satellite WiFi conspiracists to pitch a fit… 😉
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