In a NutshellWi-Fi can be an annoying travel expense, but you may be able to access free in-flight Wi-Fi if you choose your credit card or airline carefully.
Being deprived of internet access can be an annoying inconvenience when it comes to your social media routine or affect your sanity on a long-haul flight. Or maybe it’s detrimental to your job responsibilities.
The good news is that many major airlines now offer in-flight Wi-Fi. The bad news is that buying in-flight Wi-Fi can be an expensive proposition, with one-time passes typically ranging from $7 to $20 on domestic routes.
Fortunately, there are ways to get Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi (or Wi-Fi from other common providers like Global Eagle, ViaSat or JetBlue Fly-Fi®) for free, or for just a fraction of the in-flight service price tag.
Gogo is a popular provider of in-flight broadband internet services. The company’s in-flight services are available on participating airlines such as Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Air Canada.
It may take some planning, but avoiding expensive in-flight Wi-Fi is possible. Let’s take a look at three economical ways you can stay connected in the skies.
- Apply for a card that offers free in-flight Wi-Fi
- Choose your airline based on connectivity
- Backup plan: Buy in advance or check with your cell provider
With 24-hour passes coming in at $19 or more each, scoring access to Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi as a credit card perk can potentially save you hundreds of dollars over the course of a calendar year.
2. Choose your airline based on connectivity
Nobody likes getting that payment pop-up when opening up a browser on a flight. Although many still require passengers to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi, some airlines actually offer free Wi-Fi on flights.
For maximum connectivity at minimal extra cost, consider these airlines when booking your next flight.
Passengers can access free Fly-Fi® wireless internet on all JetBlue flights.
JetBlue has also partnered with Amazon to offer other Wi-Fi-related perks. For example, you’ll earn three TrueBlue points per $1 spent shopping on Amazon.com inflight. You can redeem those points for an Award flight on JetBlue — though you may want to read our guide to the best airline rewards programs before doing so.
Speaking of the TrueBlue program, we recommend reading our JetBlue Card vs. JetBlue Plus Card comparison if you’re loyal to the airline.
Alaska Airlines offers a free inflight texting service on many flights that helps passengers stay in touch while in the air. Sure, it’s not exactly free Wi-Fi, but at least you’ll be able to use iMessage, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp without texting or data charges.
Alaska Beyond™ Entertainment also offers free movies and TV shows that stream via the Gogo® Entertainment App.
If your travel plans take you outside the United States, there are several international airlines that offer free in-flight Wi-Fi, including these noteworthy names.
- Norwegian Air — Free in-flight Wi-Fi on most flights.
- Turkish Airlines — Business class travelers and some loyalty program members can get online for free. If you’re traveling in economy, you’ll pay a fee for a certain quota.
- Philippine Airlines — All passengers can take advantage of 3 MB of a free chat plan.
- Icelandair — Complimentary in-flight Wi-Fi for Saga Gold members and passengers flying Saga Premium, Saga Premium Flex and Economy Flex across two devices. For all other passengers, Wi-Fi is available to purchase.
- Qantas — This Australian-based airline has launched free Wi-Fi service on select aircraft, on select domestic flights.
Being prepared is a good way to avoid paying full price for in-flight Wi-Fi.
Gogo offers discounted rates on hourly and day packages if you buy before you board. For example, you’ll spend only $19 on an all-day pass when prepurchasing, and you’ll get 24 hours of free web-surfing time on a single participating airline. Packages you book in advance can have an expiration date, so make sure you use them before they expire. And if you wait until you’re on the plane to buy, you may end up paying more!
Some cellphone providers have Wi-Fi offerings as well, so check with yours. T-Mobile subscribers, for example, can take advantage of in-flight Wi-Fi. As a subscriber, you’ll get one hour of free in-flight Wi-Fi on flights equipped with Gogo. You can also use a series of messaging apps such as iMessage, WhatsApp, Viber and Google Hangouts for free when using the Gogo in-flight service.
Everyone wants internet when they fly, but no one wants to pay a high price for it. Fortunately, there are travel rewards cards that offer Gogo passes. The trick is to make them last all year.
If you can’t, you may still have other options. You can start by choosing to fly with airlines that offer free in-flight Wi-Fi, such as JetBlue.
If all else fails, Gogo offers discounted rates for passengers who sign up before they board. Even if you forget to buy in advance, there’s a good chance your airline or cell provider offers free in-flight messaging services, so check out all your Wi-Fi options.