Delta says it plans to eventually offer free Wi-Fi on flights. The first step to achieving that goal, however, involves testing it on a handful of planes, beginning later this month. Starting May 13, the carrier will begin offering free service on 55 domestic flights per day.
The idea here is to test the strain on the system. Currently, the number of passengers who actually use the in-flight service is fairly low. Delta’s current provider Gogo says it’s around 12% of passengers across its various airline partners. Obviously that figure is going to jump pretty significantly if service is offered up for free.
“Testing will be key to getting this highly complex program right—this takes a lot more creativity, investment and planning to bring to life than a simple flip of a switch,” Delta’s director of Onboard Product told The Wall Street Journal.
But while installing and maintaining that service on planes certainly isn’t cheap, exorbitant prices stand out in a world where many businesses offer up access for free. Like luggage-check prices, Wi-Fi has become another indication of airlines looking to squeeze every last penny out of travelers.
In fact, JetBlue is currently the only major U.S. airline that offers free internet access to all passengers, but it relies on corporate sponsorships to offer the service. Delta hasn’t given a firm date on when its own passengers might gain free access on a larger scale.