According to CEO Ed Bastian, Delta is planning to invest billions of dollars in improving the customer experience when flying Delta Airlines. This includes providing free in-flight WiFi by 2021. WiFi accessibility has seen significant growth in airlines across the industry, and Delta is hoping to set a new standard with their service.
In Flight WiFi coming to Delta
Delta Airlines has experienced significant growth over the past few years, and the trend continues for the airline. To support this growth, Delta executives hope that shifting focus to their loyal customers will stimulate even more growth for the company in the coming years. The customer experience upgrades will arrive in the form of renovated airport terminals through to free WiFi in flight.
WiFi service is one way of boosting customer appreciation when flying Delta. The airline currently offers WiFi service, but charges $16 per day when traveling in North America. Frequent flyers can opt to pay $599.99 for a year of service. The good news is, by 2021, these fees will be eliminated and all passengers will be able to enjoy WiFi service free of charge.
In a recent interview, Bastian states, “Our goal is to make WiFi free with high-speed quality… it will take another year or two to make that happen.”
Industry reactions to Delta announcement
Delta isn’t the only airline providing free WiFi service to passengers. JetBlue currently offers free inflight internet service, while Aer Lingus provides usage-capped WiFi services for free. Inflight messaging is currently available when flying on Southwest or Alaska Airlines.
The announcement from Delta is significant, however, because it’s one of the big three airlines in the US that will begin offering free WiFi across its entire fleet. The news put pressure on other carriers, and has already generated a reaction from American Airlines.
American hope to keep their WiFi offerings a paid service, but is now open to the possibility of giving free access to everyone. It will follow the trends and market demand to determine if it’s essential to the long term profitability of the company.
Challenges to free WiFi service
Free WiFi across an entire fleet for a major airline company doesn’t come without costs, either directly or indirectly.
In-flight WiFi functions with satellite service, which isn’t cheap to operate. Satellite service for providing WiFi creates expenses of hundreds of millions of dollars. Delta’s current paid WiFi service helps to offset the costs, but free WiFi will mean that the airline will need to cover the costs in other ways.
One way that the costs of free WiFi can be reduced is by raising airline ticket prices. Delta will have a premium service that it’s giving away for free on its flights, so customers may be able to justify paying a higher price to fly with Delta.
Delta Airlines wants to continue to maintain a positive brand image in the eyes of the customers. The future advances in technology on and off the planes will provide customers with a significantly improved flight experience in the coming years.