Is there Wi-Fi on the plane, how to connect to the network and whether you need to pay for it: a guide to accessing the Internet during the flight

By Tetiana PavlichenkoMay 19, 2024 11:05 AMBlog
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Is there Wi-Fi on the plane, how to connect to the network and whether you need to pay for it: a guide to accessing the Internet during the flight
With the help of cell towers and satellites, airplanes provide access to the Internet. Source: Image Freepik

The need to turn off your devices on an airplane or put them in airplane mode is frustrating, especially when you need to urgently check your email, contact your family, or for business matters, etc. Not so long ago the opportunities for communication and entertainment during air travel were very limited. But with the development of modern technologies, they have progressed significantly. But still, even now people continue to ask whether there is Wi-Fi in the airplane. And if yes, how can it work there? The answer to this question depends on the airline: some of them offer Wi-Fi service, and recently it is becoming more and more popular.

Wi-Fi provides passengers with a huge variety of possibilities: they can keep in touch with their loved ones during the flight, watch movies or listen to music via streaming services, play games, solve business issues, and so on.

Is there Wi-Fi on airplanes?

Is there Wi-Fi on the plane, how to connect to the network and whether you need to pay for it: a guide to accessing the Internet during the flight
Most modern airlines offer Wi-Fi on board. Source: Image Tung Lam/Pixabay

Whether you'll be able to connect to Wi-Fi on an airplane depends on several factors. The ability to pass the time after a flight delay on the Internet is influenced by the choice of the airline you are going to travel with, the route and duration of the flight, and the type of airplane you are on board.

Currently, the answer to the question of whether there is Wi-Fi on the plane is "Yes", as most airlines provide their passengers with such a service on board, responding to the growing demand and expectations of travelers.

How does Wi-Fi work on an airplane?

To connect to the Internet on board an airplane, airlines can use two methods: satellite and air-to-ground. For the former, an airplane receives signals from orbiting satellites using an antenna mounted on it and then distributes the connection via Wi-Fi to passengers on board. This method is relatively new, but the technology is already being actively adopted by many airlines. The second method uses cell towers, just like the ones through which you access the Internet on your cell phone when you're on the ground. But when an airplane flies over large areas of water for long periods of time, such as during transatlantic routes, this system may not work. Then the satellite comes to the rescue again.

Many airlines prefer to combine types of Wi-Fi technologies and providers depending on the route and type of airplane. There are also new players in the market, such as SpaceX: in 2022, the company announced a partnership with Hawaiian Airlines to provide high-speed internet via a network of low-orbit Starlink satellites.

How do I connect to Wi-Fi on an airplane?

So, if you are on board an airplane, there are several ways to find out how to connect to Wi-Fi. All the necessary information about it can be obtained on the airline's website. Also, the passenger can be told it at the time of booking or after he gets on the plane. Another option, where to look for a link to onboard Wi-Fi in the airplane, are booklets and manuals that are placed in the pockets in front of the passenger's seat.

In most cases, the process of connecting to Wi-Fi on an airplane is no different than with any available Wi-Fi service: the passenger will only need to activate Wi-Fi in their device, find the appropriate access point among the detected networks and select "Connect". In addition to these standard steps, you may also be required to enter certain details about your ticket or other information that confirms your identity and your right to access the network as a passenger. But sometimes you will also need to pay for this service.

Is there a charge for Wi-Fi on airplanes?

Is there Wi-Fi on the plane, how to connect to the network and whether you need to pay for it: a guide to accessing the Internet during the flight
Different airlines have their own terms for paying for Wi-Fi access. Source: Image Orna/Pixabay

Whether or not there is a charge for Wi-Fi service also depends on the particular airline. Some carriers, such as JetBlue, include free Wi-Fi as standard on their planes. Others, such as Delta Air Lines, charge a flat fee per hour of use or for the entire flight.

Wi-Fi may also be included in the list of services included with the ticket. For example, a business class ticket may include Wi-Fi access, while economy class passengers will have to pay if they need to use the Internet. However, airlines are constantly adapting their services to meet passenger demands and industry trends, so conditions may change, so it's best to check for up-to-date information on how to use Wi-Fi on board your company's aircraft.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use Wi-Fi in airplane mode?

When you activate airplane mode on your device – phone, tablet and more – it automatically disconnects all data paths and Wi-Fi connections. So you'll only be able to connect to the Internet when you turn off airplane mode. But if you manually turn on Wi-Fi on your device after activating airplane mode, it will work as normal.

Is there Wi-Fi on all airplanes?

More and more airlines are implementing this service on their planes, but still there are companies that don't use it.

Can I use streaming apps using Wi-Fi on an airplane?

This will depend on the quality and strength of the connection. Wi-Fi services on an airplane can be either good enough to use various online services or quite slow with weak downloads. Fortunately, in the near future, the quality of the internet on airplanes will improve thanks to new technologies such as the Gogo 2Ku system, so the connection will be more reliable on both domestic and international flights.

Can I use mobile data on board?

No, the signal from wireless devices interferes with equipment and pilot operations, so passengers will need to put their devices in airplane mode or turn them off.

Which airlines have implemented Wi-Fi on their flights?

Almost all of the world's major airlines now offer in-flight Wi-Fi. You can see the full list of companies that have this service, for example, here, but also do not forget to check the information about whether Wi-Fi works in the airplanes of the carrier you are going to travel with on its website when booking.

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