Should a free WiFi plan on Delta Air Lines flights be a new Choice Benefit for Diamond and Platinum Medallions?
Free WiFi on Delta
Delta’s talked for a few years about offering free WiFi. The topic came up in March 2019. Later in 2019, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said he’s a “firm believer we need to make WiFi free.” But the technology for a quality product wasn’t quite ready.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Last year, Delta introduced Viasat high-speed internet on many narrowbody aircraft. Since then, we haven’t heard anything about Delta offering free WiFi on all flights.
I’ll believe free WiFi on Delta when I actually use it.
That’s not necessarily a dig at Delta.
It’s just that we’ve heard about free WiFi for almost three years. Various complications (like a pandemic and all its related problems) likely delayed things. So who knows when the plan will actually come to fruition?
Free WiFi as a Delta Choice Benefit?
Redditor EatSleepFlyGuy posted to the r/Delta subreddit a screenshot of a survey question he was asked. Delta asked his opinion on whether or not during his next Delta flight he’d (theoretically) watch a 15- to 30-second advertisement on a personal electronic device — in exchange for “free, fast-streaming WiFi” during his flight.
But Redditor StuckinSuFu (denoted as a Diamond Medallion member) said, “(I would) spend a Choice Benefit on yearly wifi access over the $200 credit.” (A $200 Delta flight credit is available as a Choice Benefit.)
Several other commentators agreed (including the thread’s creator, the aforementioned EatSleepFlyGuy).
I thought that was quite an interesting suggestion.
WiFi as a Choice Benefit vs. Paying for It
In order for free Wifi to be worth someone cashing in a Choice Benefit, that person would have to fly Delta fairly often — and actually use the WiFi.
Planes featuring the Viasat option currently offer gate-to-gate WiFi for just $5 per flight (at least, it was five bucks the last time I flew on a Viasat-equipped Delta plane).
Others Delta passengers are subject to the going Gogo rates which are, if I remember correctly, $16 for a flight or something like $25 for an entire day. For what it’s worth, GoGo’s 2Ku also is a gate-to-gate product.
There also are two monthly plans available: $49.95 for domestic and $69.95 for global.
So depending on how much someone flies, it’s entirely possible someone could get a lot of value out of free WiFi being a Choice Benefit.
And it may be a solid offer for Delta, too.
Given that Delta recently devalued upgrade certificates, free WiFi would give people another solid option for their Choice Benefits. And I can’t imagine it would cost Delta that much money. Plus, those who’d select free WiFi as a benefit instead of upgrade certificates give Delta that many more Premium Select and Delta One seats to sell.
An $840 annual global WiFi pass is probably easier on Delta’s wallet than swallowing a couple of Delta One upgrades that otherwise could’ve been sold.
In a perfect world, Delta would already offer free, streaming quality WiFi to everyone. And that seems to be the plan. But until then, I think the Choice Benefit route is a good option while phasing in free WiFi to everyone else.
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