Lonely Planet Writer

US passengers most likely to have Wi-Fi in the sky

Passengers on board US airlines are more than five times more likely to have access to Wi-Fi on their flights when compared to the rest of the world.

Us airlines most likely to have sky Wi-Fi.
Us airlines most likely to have sky Wi-Fi. Image by Manolo Gómez / CC BY 2.0

A state of in-flight Wi-Fi report by Routehappy has revealed that the world’s intending air passengers have around a one in three chance of getting online during their flight using their own mobiles, devices, or laptops.

The best chance by far for Wi-Fi in the sky is in the United States where 71% of air miles travelled are on board an aircraft that offers online access.

The percentages are growing as well with another 7% of air travel in the process of rolling out a service and only 22% offering no Wi-Fi.

The picture outside of the United States however, is far more hit and miss where just 13% of air miles travelled have online access.

Routehappy’s report explained: “For non-US airlines, Wi-Fi rollouts … are in earlier stages of installation and those airlines that do offer Wi-Fi typically do so only on long-haul aircraft.

“There are now 53 non-US airlines that offer in-flight Wi-Fi, with more coming in 2016.”

The three major US airlines – Delta, United, and American – offered the most connected air miles last year, followed closely by Emirates.

Other carriers with significant Wi-Fi services included Southwest, Etihad, Lufthansa and Singapore.

In terms of which company had the most aircraft with online availability for passengers, Asian low-fares company Scoot scored 100% for its fleet, while both Virgin America and Icelandair offered 90% plus connectivity across their airplanes.

The standard of Wi-Fi connection is also getting better with 6% of available access considered “high bandwidth” that would allow easy streaming of video services such as Netflix.

More than half of the online access was classified as “better”, while 41% remained “basic” – that is, enough to check emails and web pages, but within limits.