Eighty-two airlines worldwide now offer WiFi, an increase from 70 airlines a year ago. Meanwhile, the availability of high-speed WiFi more than doubled in 2017, according to the Routehappy 2018 WiFi report.
Airlines now offer passengers a chance to enjoy what Routehappy calls “Best WiFi” on 16% of the world’s available seat miles. By comparison, Best WiFi was available on just 7.2% of seat miles a year ago. Routehappy defines Best WiFi as a service that is capable of advance streaming of movies and other media, similar to what one would expect at home.
The 129% jump, said Routehappy director of airline research Jason Rabinowitz, is a result of in-flight WiFi providers Gogo and Inmarsat becoming significant players in the high-speed WiFi market, which was previously dominated by Viasat through its largest airline customer, JetBlue.
Now, Delta operates more than 350 aircraft equipped with Gogo’s high-speed 2KU product and American, Alaska, British Airways and Iberia are also fitting planes with 2KU. Meanwhile, Lufthansa Group, which includes Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Austrian Airlines and Eurowings, launched the high-speed Global Xpress service offered by Inmarsat in 2017.
The worldwide availability of all WiFi, including slower offerings dubbed by Routehappy as “Better WiFi” and “Basic WiFi,” now stands at 43% of available seat miles, up from 39% a year ago. U.S. carriers, which have always led the way in adoption rates, now have WiFi fully installed on 85% of their available seat miles.
For the most, part WiFi is available throughout the mainline networks of all low-cost and legacy U.S. carriers. Ultra-low-cost carriers Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant don’t offer the service, and carriers don’t typically offer it on their smaller 50-seat regional jets.
Worldwide, Southwest, Icelandair and Virgin Atlantic are the three carriers that offer WiFi on 100% of their flights. Meanwhile, Delta and United are among 13 carriers that offer WiFi on all long-haul flights.