Working at 36,000 feet may not feel like living the dream, but if you’re traveling for work (or fun), every minute counts. Some U.S. airlines are making it easier than ever to stay connected whether you have your head in the clouds or on the ground.
For the past decade, it was standard to require passengers to pay either by the minute or by the hour to access the airline’s Wi-Fi network on most domestic flights. And for those who were winging it by working through the flight, those Wi-Fi costs added up fast.
Don’t toggle your phone into airplane mode just yet because many national and international air carriers are bringing Wi-Fi service to their fleets. While you can’t take phone calls mid-flight, here are the airlines where flying the connected skies comes standard with your ticket.
Domestic and International Airlines That Offer Free In-Flight Wi-Fi
Want to use those hours in the air to clear your inbox or level up in that guilty pleasure mobile game? Check it off your to-do list because these airlines offer complimentary Wi-Fi as part of your in-flight experience.
Domestic Flights With Free Wi-Fi
Delta Air Lines
The latest airline outfitting its entire fleet with Wi-Fi is Delta. Delta — in partnership with T-Mobile — made free in-flight Wi-Fi available to all passengers on domestic flights in February. By the end of 2024, Delta CEO Ed Bastian promises to have its entire fleet on board with free unlimited Wi-Fi, including regional and international flights.
There’s just one tiny hitch. To access the Wi-Fi, Delta Airlines requires passengers to sign up for a free Delta SkyMiles account. If you don’t want to join the Delta SkyMiles members club, you can still purchase Wi-Fi for a $10 fee per device.
For JetBlue, free Wi-Fi is so 2017 that they coined a word for it: Fly-Fi. For a while, they were the only U.S. airline where unlimited access to the plane’s high-speed Wi-Fi came with your JetBlue ticket.
JetBlue also partners with Amazon, so you’ll earn extra TrueBlue points — JetBlue’s loyalty program — for shopping in-flight. Plus, you’ll get access to Amazon Prime’s library so you can stream Amazon video, music, audiobooks and more.
Other Domestic Airlines With Free Wi-Fi
While JetBlue and Delta are the only national carriers that offer free in-flight Wi-Fi to all passengers, most other airlines are piloting similar programs and perks on select domestic flights.
American Airlines offers some flights where passengers watch a sponsored video to receive 30 minutes of in-flight Wi-Fi. On United Airlines flights, Mileage Plus loyalty members use miles instead of paying a fee to access in-flight Wi-Fi. And Alaska Airlines and SouthWest provide free texting and messaging through iMessage and Whatsapp.
International Carriers With Free Wi-Fi
Domestic airlines aren’t the only game in town for scoring free Wi-Fi. Check out the select international aircraft that help you stay connected for cheap.
Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand not only provides free Wi-Fi on all domestic flights, but it comes complimentary on all international Wi-Fi-enabled flights.
Nok Air is a budget carrier out of Thailand, but there’s nothing cheap about their in-flight benefits. They provide complimentary Wi-Fi access on all Boeing 737 flights.
Grab free high-speed Wi-Fi on board B737-800 and A330-200 Qantas flights, courtesy of a partnership with Viasat.
Japan Airlines passengers get free Wi-Fi on domestic flights with the exception of a few aircraft that are not yet equipped to provide the service.
Other International Airlines With Free Wi-FI
There are a few other international air carriers that provide in-flight Wi-Fi, but don’t return your tray tables to their upright position just yet because it comes with strings attached.
On Qatar Airways, you can only get 15 minutes or 10 MB of free Wi-Fi via a sponsor. Norwegian Airlines provides 15 minutes of free in-flight WiFI on select flights, and Philippine Airlines offers a complimentary 3 MB chat plan.
At China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines, in-flight Wi-Fi is first come, first serve. The first 100 lucky passengers on the flight who register 30 days in advance connect to the Wi-Fi free.
Other Ways to Get Free In-Flight Wi-Fi
If you’re stuck schlepping it on a carrier that doesn’t offer free Wi-Fi, you might still be able to snag a cheap (or free) connection. Here’s how.
Leverage Credit Card Perks
Some airline credit cards let you redeem points or miles to reimburse you for in-flight Wi-Fi costs. These include airline credit cards and reward programs from Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines.
Earn Premium or Elite Status
Several international and national air carriers allow premium or elite members to earn free Wi-Fi. This includes national carriers like Southwest and international airlines like Emirates, Finnair, Icelandair, Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines.
Upgrade to Business or First Class
The perks of business class and first class are more than just extra legroom and bottomless mimosas. These airlines extend complimentary in-flight Wi-Fi on personal devices to those who pay extra not to get stuck hugging their knees in economy class.
- Aer Lingus
- Emirates Airlines (Emirates Skywards members only)
- Philippine Air (100 MB limit)
- SAS (Scandinavian Airlines)
- Singapore Airlines (First class free, Business class 100 MB limit)
- Turkish Airlines (1 GB limit)
- Alitalia (Magnifica members only, 50 MB voucher)
- Finnair (one-hour, intercontinental flights only)
- Swiss Airlines (50 MB voucher)
Pay close attention to the Wi-Fi terms, however, because most airlines listed here have some limitations to internet access.
Connect With T-Mobile and Sprint
T-Mobile customers can buckle up and get connected because they’ve already have in-flight Wi-Fi on Alaska, American and Delta flights through their wireless provider. T-Mobile and Sprint Unlimited, Sprint ONE and Sprint Max passengers get free messaging through iMessage, Google Hangouts and Whatsapp, as well as an hour of free data.
Other Airline Perks Worth Checking Out
If you’d rather kick back and not spend your flight streaming, there are a few other airline perks to check out, from free cocktails to complimentary checked bags.
Free In-Flight Beer and Cocktails
Have a flight of beer or wine on your way to Canada, courtesy of Porter Airlines, serving up local brews and vintages. Air Canada has similar alcoholic offerings when you book a flight between Toronto and Montreal. Even WestJet, a low-cost carrier based out of Canada, offers a free glass of beer or wine on regional flights.
Horizon Air will quench your thirst with Northwestern wines and microbrews — and your wine flies free. That is, you can check a case of wine for free from 32 West Coast cities on Alaska, Horizon and SkyWest flights. And of course, a complimentary glass of bubbly or wine comes with the ticket on all long-haul AirFrance flights.
Free Layover From Icelandair
Having a layover doesn’t sound like a perk, but hear us out. What if it’s in Iceland? Icelandair invites all passengers who book their flights to arrange a free stopover for one to seven days — coming and going, if you want — in Iceland to get a taste of what the country has to offer.
Kid Travel Perks
Baby on board? These airlines are on standby to ease your suffering. British Airways feeds kids first on all flights, so you can rest easy when it’s your turn to eat. Some international airlines offer other perks, like Gulf Air’s sky nannies who make the rounds to entertain kids in-flight.
South Korea’s Asiana Airlines literally puts moms first with front-row seats to the bathroom for all expectant mothers and free baby slings and nursing blankets for infants.
Free Checked Bags
If you’re traveling with a lot of baggage (and really, who isn’t), many airlines provide ways to waive the fees and check your luggage for free on most flights. Delta SkyMiles, United Explorer and Alaska Airline Visa members all earn free checked baggage for cardholders and, in some cases, for traveling companions. You always get two free checked bags on Southwest though.
Looking to duck the baggage fee? Before you try cramming your oversized duffle into a bin, here’s how you can pay less for luggage and avoid other traveling costs.
If all you really want is to be first in line to snag a window seat or a coveted overhead bin, you’re in luck. Elite flyers, premium members and some airline credit cardholders earn priority boarding with major airline carriers, including American, United Airlines and Southwest.
Next time you need to fire up the Wi-Fi at 36,000 feet, and you’re not on a JetBlue or Delta flight, consider keeping these tips and tricks in your back pocket to avoid in-flight connection charges. In this case, time really is money, so spend (and stream) wisely.
Kaz Weida is a senior staff writer at The Penny Hoarder covering saving money and budgeting. As a journalist, she has written about a wide array of topics including finance, health, politics, education and technology for the last decade.