The internet surrounds us in almost every moment of our lives. However, one of the places where it had always been limited was when taking a flight. The airplane internet nowadays is easier to get on some airlines and through several cellular providers. But it is worth mentioning that they can come with some limitations to keep the flight secure.
Getting internet on a plane often depends on the duration and route of the flight. The economic and logistical obstacle is that not all airlines offer this service. But if during your flight you have the need to use some kind of instant messaging, WiFi call, or web browsing, in this article, we will be explaining to you how to get airplane wireless internet when you fly.
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Can you use the internet on an airplane?
At first, the answer is yes. But what has not changed is that probably when your flight begins, you will be asked to activate airplane mode on your phone. In cases where it is accessible, the internet connection that you will have will be through a WiFi network provided by the plane, and the connection may come from the airline or a carrier company that offers the service.
How to get internet on a plane
The internet in the plane is delivered through antennas called ATG. Which bring the signal from the ground antennas that we usually use in our day to day online activities. The main drawback of this system is the maximum connection speed. Which ranges between 5 and 15 MPs, far from the 5G speeds we’re used to. It should also be noted that the connection can be unstable if you fly through desert areas or large expanses of the sea or ocean where there are no antennas with available signals.
A system that has been tested in the last few years is the airplane satellite internet. The system is similar to ATG. With the difference is that the signal comes from satellites and not from antennas on the ground. The benefits of this system are higher speed and stability. But it also represents a higher cost and is currently available on a few flight routes and a few airlines.
How much cost the internet on a plane
It is important to mention that airplane internet is not only limited but also expensive. Some airlines indeed offer free WiFi, but this is limited to the first hour of the flight or to a certain amount of MB (10 or MB in some cases). It is good to keep in mind that if it is not for essential use, it will not be worth paying $10 or more for only 10 MB of use at a low speed.
Many times it is advisable to wait to land and use an international internet connection as you can do so through Holafly’s eSIM for almost any destination on the planet. If it is definitely necessary for you to have an internet connection on the plane, we will be talking about the options offered by major airlines and phone companies.
Airlines offering in-flight internet
As mentioned above, major airlines offer WiFi internet connection for international flights, luxury flights and some specific routes. Through this option, the connection speed and cost will depend on the flight you take. And even the aircraft model assigned to you by the airline. The WiFi connection usually has speeds between 5 and 70mps for use by all passengers, in addition to having a restricted bandwidth so as not to affect the speed of others.
As the cost and quality of the WiFi connection will depend on the airline, flight route, and flight hours. We will be talking about the options offered by the most important airlines in the world.
This company has been a pioneer when it comes to internet connection. In the last few years, they have aimed to be the airline with most planes with internet connection than any other.
The truth is that the company offers WiFi connection for all its flights, except for two small aircraft models used for regional flights only (ERJ-145 and ERJ-170), which do not enjoy this perk.
To confirm if your flight offers onboard WiFi is through your flight’s status. If you see the WiFi symbol, then it is available. Only in some specific cases, such as very long flights or payments with some CC’s do they offer free WiFi. In the most common cases, the costs range from $10 to $45 per flight. You can pay for the service before or during your flight. If you are a frequent flyer, American Airlines offers onboard WiFi monthly plans of $49 for one device and $59 for two devices for all trips within the duration of the plan.
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines offers WiFi services on at least 40% of their aircrafts and on more than 250 routes. The internet provider varies by aircraft and flight, but its main partnerships are with AT&T, Intelsat, and Viasat. The well-known sky miles membership for its most frequent flyers includes WiFi service on flights where available.
Nowadays, Delta offers free WiFi on almost all domestic flights in the U.S. In cases where it is not free; the costs can range from $7 per hour of use or $5 per flight if the provider is Viasat regardless of destination or duration, and where available. They also offer plans for frequent flyers at the cost of $49.95 for a monthly package for domestic flights and $69.95 for a monthly package for international flights.
JetBlue’s Fly-fi is the WiFi internet connection offered by the airline. Despite being classified as low-cost, this company offers this connection service free of charge to all their passengers. The connection speed is 15mps and is available on domestic flights within the USA, for some destinations in the Caribbean and Central America, and for the route to and from London.
This service, despite being only 15mps, is free and allows you to use apps such as Netflix or Amazon, social media, and internet browsing. The system works with an antenna to the ground. So, the airline itself mentions that some conditions and coverage areas may cause an internet outage during the flight, so they do not guarantee stability.
On most flights, except for short domestic routes, Alaska Airlines offer a flat rate for its WiFi services. Only 737-9 MAX aircraft and all Q400 aircraft do not have internet connectivity available. On your reservation, you can check the “flight details” to confirm if the internet option is available during travel.
If it is available, internet on Alaska flights is through satellite. WiFi service costs $8. If your travel destination is Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica, or parts of Alaska, the cost can range from $8 to $25. With the internet on a plane from Alaska Airlines, you can view applications such as Netflix and Amazon as well as get online browsing.
Cellphone operators that offer airplane internet
The second option to use is to opt for the in-flight internet service offered by some cellular operators. This connection also uses WiFi and the antennas installed in the airplane but with the support of the signal of your domestic cellular operator. It should be noted that as it depends on the devices on the plane, there must be compatibility between the airline and the cellular company. We recommend verifying this before taking the flight or getting a data plan. Also, remember that when you land at your destination, you can use the Holafly eSIM to enjoy an excellent internet connection.
The telecommunications giant offers users of Magenta, Magenta MAX, and most Sprint plans the opportunity to use T-Mobile airplane internet with airlines such as Alaska, American, Delta, and United. Wherever you see the T-Mobile logo you can activate this feature.
You need a compatible device, a plan that offers the service, and when the connection is available on the plane usually at 10,000 feet, connect to the WiFi network, and of course, remember to keep airplane mode active on the phone. It is important to follow the steps explained previously to use the service, as well as to check in advance with the flight data if WiFi will be available during the trip.
For AT&T users who have the international day pass, in addition to having a high-speed connection in more than 210 destinations around the world, they could enjoy WiFi connection on their flights. This opportunity was in alliance with Panasonic avionics, the leader in training and telecommunications in airplanes. The cost of this plan is $10 per day, and you will be able to enjoy this connection.
With Vodafone’s roaming services, you can also opt for a passport pack with which you will get internet during your trip. This can be used once the plane reaches 4000 thousand feet or more. And you must follow the flight crew’s instructions for use. Vodafone in-flight roaming can cost from $10 to $30, depending on the duration of consumption and of the flight. You also need to confirm what airlines work or have partnership with Vodafone. Such as Qatar Airways, Kuwait Airways, and Turkish Airlines, among others.
FAQ about airplane internet
Yes, it is a service available on some flights and airlines.
You can get free WiFi on some airlines, by paying for the internet service with the airline or through your cellular operator.
They work through WiFi, getting the internet connection through terrestrial antennas or through satellites.
American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Delta Air Lines offer free WiFi on some of their routes.
The internet connection is via WiFi, so activating airplane mode does not compromise the connection.