Starting next year, Delta will be rolling out free high-speed internet on its smaller aircraft and regional partner jets operating in North America.
The airline announced a new partnership between Delta and Hughes Network Systems on Wednesday, which will outfit more than 400 Delta Boeing 717s and regional partner jets operating in North America with Wi-Fi. Major airlines, Delta included, use smaller regional jets by way of subsidiary or affiliate airlines to provide passenger service to places that lack sufficient demand for larger planes.
Although, as The Points Guy notes, CRJ-200 jets won’t receive the Wi-Fi upgrades as those aircraft are currently in the process of being phased out.
The company plans to begin the initial installations of high-speed internet service in mid-2024, with the full rollout finished by the end of next year. The news comes after Delta first announced free Wi-Fi on more than 540 of its mainline domestic aircraft early last year. Those jets are likewise in the process of being upgraded to Viasat, a more reliable Wi-Fi provider.
Installing regional jets with fast and reliable internet access has always been a challenge for airlines, due in part to the size and weight of the antennas needed to connect to satellites in the sky. The airline said that the new satellite antenna and radome will connect to Ka-band satellites and offer high-speed gate-to-gate connectivity.
To access the high-speed Wi-Fi, passengers just need a SkyMiles membership, and will be connected to the high-speed Wi-Fi upon logging into their account.
“Delta is committed to delivering a reliable Wi-Fi experience to all our passengers, including those flying on our regional carriers,” said Glenn Latta, Delta’s managing director of inflight entertainment and connectivity, in a statement.
The announcement marks the latest incentive Delta is dangling in front of travelers. Just last month, the airline announced it would begin offering a mattress pad and lumbar support pillow for Delta One business class flyers on ultra-long-haul flights.