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Delta launches free Wi-Fi • TechCrunch

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at CES, Delta Airlines announced today that it will launch free Wi-Fi for all members of its SkyMiles loyalty program from February 1. The free service, which the company is launching in partnership with T-Mobile, will be available in the majority of the company’s countries, Viasat-equipped core aircraft first, with full availability on its regional aircraft and on international flights from by the end of 2024.

“At work, at home, and everywhere in between, connectivity is essential to everyday life, and your journey on Delta should be no different,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said at CES 2023 in Las Vegas. . “Our vision has long been to deliver an experience at 30,000 feet that approximates what our customers have available in the field.”

Picture credits: Delta

Since more users are likely to use this free service than ever paid, the airline has focused on beefing up its systems in recent months. Delta said it worked with Viasat engineers to test and evolve its in-flight connectivity service to enable this deployment.

“We didn’t just want the free Wi-Fi to provide basic service – we wanted it to transform the whole onboard experience,” Bastian said. “It’s imperative that all customers on board can enjoy their favorite content just as they would at home, and we’ve put this system through meticulous testing to make that possible.”

MediaLink’s Michael Kassan and Delta’s Ed Bastian at CES 2023. Picture credits: Sarah Perez/TechCrunch

To use the service, travelers must be members of Delta’s SkyMiles frequent flyer service (although, as a spokesperson told me, they’ll also be able to create an account on the plane). Even though this service is rolled out in partnership with T-Mobile, you don’t have to be a T-Mobile customer to use it.

“He’s going to be available for everyone,” Bastian said today. “It doesn’t matter what price you paid for your seat, what class of service you chose, what credit card you used, which mobile operator you are connected to – it will be free for all and that is something so important to the path. The good news is there’s no fine print. It’s free.”

One thing to note, as Bastian confirmed in his talk today, is that free Wi-Fi will extend to all devices you have with you, not just a single phone or laptop. .

Many other airlines are also moving in this direction, whether in a more limited form by offering free access to messaging apps (as Delta has already done) or by partnering with telcos to offer free Wi-Fi to their customers. United, for example, offers Free Wi-Fi for T-Mobile customers on most flights these days.

Along with this, Delta is also launching Delta Sync, its unified brand for its software, connectivity and inflight entertainment offerings. In many ways, this revolves around the company’s announcements since it first attended CES in 2018. The idea here is to offer travelers a more personalized service using primarily its mobile app, as well as new airport experiences, all linked to the traveler’s SkyMiles account. This includes Delta (optional) facial recognition based boarding systemwhich is currently being tested in Atlanta and Detroit, but also the new free Wi-Fi offer and new entertainment offers which will only be available to SkyMiles members.

Indeed, the new Delta Sync on Demand will provide travelers with a personalized seat-back entertainment system that is more akin to the smart TV they have at home, Delta promises. For now, in addition to entertainment content, this will include first-class food and drink ordering, new planned travel, content recommendations and real-time notifications. The airline plans to start rolling out some of the system’s initial features by the end of the year, although many customization features won’t launch until after that.

As Bastian also noted today, Paramount+ will be a partner with free Paramount+ streaming onboard Delta’s aircraft. These new Delta Sync experiences will roll out sometime in 2023.

“Delta Sync elevates what it means to be a Delta SkyMiles member by enabling travel that’s right for you and becomes more rewarding the more you travel,” said Bastian. “The future of travel is where your digital and physical experiences come together in seamless, warm and personal ways, making those human travel connections even more meaningful.”

Learn more about CES 2023 on TechCrunch

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