Delta Air Lines announced on Wednesday that it had inked a deal with Hughes In-Flight Connectivity to roll out fast and free gate-to-gate Wi-Fi across its 400-strong fleet of Boeing 717 regional jets, which are branded as Delta Connection.
The news comes just seven months after Delta switched on free Wi-Fi for SkyMiles members across its mainline fleet of short-haul aircraft in partnership with T-Mobile.
In that time, Delta says free Wi-Fi has become a top three driver of customer satisfaction and that the presence of onboard connectivity is having a knock-on effect across the entire onboard experience.
With more than 600 single-aisle aircraft already fitted with free Wi-Fi, around 115,000 passengers a day are connecting to the streaming quality service, although Delta’s vice president of inflight entertainment and connectivity, Julieta McCurry, admits the rollout hasn’t been completely trouble-free.
“Delivering fast, free Wi-Fi requires a complex network of satellites that are utilized in just the right position at just the right time to keep our aircraft connected—that’s not an easy task,” McCurry explained on Wednesday.
“Our teams are working hand-in-hand with connectivity partners to ensure we do everything we can to offer a reliable and consistent experience no matter where you are headed on Delta.”
McCurry says the airline has been listening to both customer and employee feedback about the Wi-Fi experience, and “tireless scrutiny” of data from the system has helped Delta hone its approach to how they serve Wi-Fi.
Project work with Hughes to bring satellite-based free Wi-Fi to the regional jet fleet is already underway, although initial installations of the system on actual aircraft aren’t slated to begin until mid-2024.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.