Skift Take

Outfitting aircraft with Wi-Fi is part of the battle. As Routehappy points out, the quality is still lacking with fewer than one percent of flights in the U.S. equipped with Wi-Fi that has the bandwidth to stream video.

Among major U.S. airlines, Delta wins the prize for the ubiquity of its Wi-Fi service, offering “the most flights and flight miles with Wi-Fi of all airlines by far.”

That’s according to the latest Routehappy report on Wi-Fi trends among airlines around the world.

Routehappy states that the Wi-Fi situation has “changed dramatically” since its last report in July 2013, when Wi-Fi was not nearly as common and the quality and high prices led to lots of traveler complaints.

Today, in-flight Wi-Fi is widely available on both mainline and many regional connection flights within the U.S., and Wi-Fi on international flights has become much more common,” Routehappy found. “The three major U.S. airlines (United, Delta, and American) now have multiple aircraft types with international Wi-Fi installed flying on international routes, with aggressive rollout plans in place.”

Delta, United and American

In the U.S., while Delta had the most-Wi-Fi-enabled flights, adding 503 flights over the last 18 months, Routehappy states that United featured the most international aircraft with Wi-Fi and was the only U.S. carrier to offer Wi-Fi that Routehappy classifies as “best,” namely a technically advanced system that supports streaming video.

United increased its Wi-Fi availability 179 percent to 1,445 aircraft on U.S. domestic flights over the past 18 months, Routehappy reports.

Meanwhile, American/US Airways offers “better” Wi-Fi — faster systems such as 4G that have graphical capabilities but can’t stream video — on its more than 300-aircraft Airbus narrowbody fleet, Routehapyy found.

Other Wi-Fi Trends

In other findings from the Routehappy report:

  • 52 airlines globally offer in-flight Wi-Fi in most regions;
  • Flyers have at least “some” [up to one third of a subfleet] chance of Wi-Fi on 24 percent of flights globally;
  • U.S. carriers provide at least “some” chance of Wi-Fi on 66 percent of their flights system wide;
  • Non-U.S. airlines offer at least “some” chance of Wi-Fi on 15 percent  of their international flights;
  • Nine non-U.S. airlines offer at least a “very good” [more than two-third of a sub-fleet] chance of Wi-Fi on more than 20% of their international flight miles. These airlines are Japan, Emirates, Aeroflot, Iberia, Lufthansa, Singapore, Etihad, Norwegian and Icelandair. Norwegian and Icelandair surpass 80 each.

The Busiest Routes are Covered

All of the busiest U.S. domestic routes with at least 20 daily flights in each direction, including JFK-LAX, LGA-BOS, LGA-DCA, JFK-SFO, CLT-ATL, boast Wi-Fi on all flights.

But when it comes to the quality of onboard Wi-Fi, Routehappy found it is lacking.

Fewer than one percent of U.S. flights offer Wi-Fi with the bandwidth to handle streaming video.

Improvements are on the way to some extent, though. Routehappy notes that “airlines are upgrading from Gogo ATG (Air To Ground) to ATG-4,” a faster system that can handle graphical sites and social media, “on hundreds of aircraft.”


The Daily Newsletter

Our daily coverage of the global travel industry. Written by editors and analysts from across Skift’s brands.

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Tags: american airlines, delta air lines, routehappy, united airlines, wi-fi

Photo credit: Passengers boarding a JetBlue aircraft equipped with its in-flight Wi-Fi product. Skift

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