“From British Airways in the U.K. to Qantas in Australia, Wi-Fi at 32,000 feet is now more ubiquitous than ever before.”
That’s one of the key takeaways from Routehappy’s just-released report on the availability and quality of onboard Wi-Fi.
Other notable findings:
- In 2018, in-flight Wi-Fi is available on 82 airlines, a 17% increase from 2017
- But only 43% of available seat miles (ASMs) feature Wi-Fi
- U.S. airlines offer Wi-Fi on 86% of their ASMs
- Only 3 airlines offer Wi-Fi on 100% of their flights: Icelandair, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic
- The 3 airlines that feature Wi-Fi on the most ASMs: Delta, American, Emirates
It’s not just availability that’s improved; Wi-Fi quality has been trending upward as well. Routehappy breaks down Wi-Fi speed among Basic, Better, and Best. Basic (sufficient for web browsing but not for streaming media) is only offered on 27 percent of worldwide ASMs, a 16 percent decrease from 2017. Better Wi-Fi is most common, found on 57 percent of ASMs. And while Best Wi-Fi is only currently offered on 16 percent of worldwide ASMs, it’s the fastest-growing category, up 129 percent from 2017.
The trend is decidedly in the direction of higher-speed Wi-Fi. That’s a win for air travelers, who can look forward to streaming their favorite TV shows and movies on their preferred electronic devices. But it’s also a win for the airlines, which are increasingly opting to forego seatback entertainment systems, choosing instead to let passengers provide their own entertainment. That’s a money- and weight-saving move for the airlines. And of course, most airlines charge for Wi-Fi, so it’s a revenue-generator as well.
Reader Reality Check
Has your experience with in-flight Wi-Fi been improving lately?
More from SmarterTravel:
- Tip Your Uber Driver, or Else
- Delta Warns: No More Comfort Hedgehogs on Flights
- You Can Thank United for the Next Airfare War
After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.
We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.