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Delta Air Lines is preparing to run a two-week pilot of free wifi on around 55 domestic flights a day.
Passengers on the short, medium and long-haul trial routes will be able to access in-flight wifi free of charge regardless of class of travel. Delta says the pilot is a step towards its goal of offering complimentary connectivity as part of its suite of onboard entertainment options.
Delta began offering free messaging for passengers on select flights operated by aircraft with two or more cabins in 2017.
The test will not support streaming services, but it will enable passengers to browse, email, shop, message and engage with social media among other services, according to Delta.
“Customers are accustomed to having access to free wifi during nearly every other aspect of their journey, and Delta believes it should be free when flying too,” said Ekrem Dimbiloglu, director of onboard product. “Testing will be key to getting this highly complex programme right – this takes a lot more creativity, investment and planning to bring to life than a simple flip of a switch.”
Dimbiloglu also noted that due to the complexity of the project, it will likely take several more test phases and gathering feedback to ensure the free wifi adds value for passengers.
Delta says test flight segments will change daily, with customers notified if their flight will include free wifi via email and the Fly Delta app prior to departure. For services not included in the trial, complimentary messaging will still be available, as will wifi for purchase.
The airline says it currently offers wifi on nearly all flights across its domestic and international networks and has installed high-speed 2Ku connections on 60 per cent of its mainline aircraft.
The announcement comes after the airline unveiled its retrofitted B777, which will be rolled out throughout 2019 and features four cabin classes.