Delta’s Wireless Internet is On Its Way

I think it’s worth mentioning that Delta has been doing some good work on its blog lately. Beyond Marie Force and her excellent archives posts (like this one on the Hercules), they’ve been disseminating some important information as well. First Delta Aircraft with Broadband Wi-FiLast week, they announced that their first aircraft with wireless internet is ready to go. (This picture is from Delta’s Flickr account.)

Delta, like American, has decided to use Aircell’s ground-based internet service. This is perfectly fine for much of the fleet since it won’t venture over water, but it does provide some limitations. The first fleet to get retrofitted is, probably surprisingly to most, the MD-80 fleet. I would have expected that to be the first fleet type to leave the fleet, so I’d think they wouldn’t invest much in it, but I guess not.

One thing that probably impacted their decision was the fact that the MD-80s have no onboard entertainment at all. The widebodies, 737s, 757s, and even the MD-90s have some form of onboard video, but the MD-80s have nothing. So, that must be why they started here. They want to make sure that everyone has something to keep them busy.

Like Filtering Internet AccessAmerican, which recently gave in to pressure, Delta will block sites it deems inappropriate. I personally find this to be a slippery slope and it will probably create more of a headache to manage than anything else. It will undoubtedly block sites that shouldn’t be blocked and will miss some sites that it might want blocked. And let’s not even talk about how easy it is to get around if you really wanted to, but apparently they’re going to waste their time trying anyway.

No matter what, it’s good to see the internet becoming more widespread onboard. Alaska and Southwest are joining the party very soon, and it’s only going to become more common from here. Pretty soon, it’ll be standard equipment on every plane, especially since the airlines will be able to charge for it.

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11 Comments on "Delta’s Wireless Internet is On Its Way"

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Ah yes: the proverbial blocking challenge. Does anyone else remember that AOL tried to do that–and ended up blocking access to sites such as ‘American Breast Cancer Survivors’ and ‘Prostate Cancer Survivors Network’?

All because the name of the group included verboten language. Best I can say is, “Good luck, airlines!”


I think dumping money into their MD-80’s is a bit of a waste. Watching Wall Street lately I think we are in for some serious capacity reductions. The MD-80’s would be my first pick for the graveyards of the southwest. Also, Delta will soon be taking over a NW fleet with absolutely no on board entertainment. Why not wait six months and do this upgrade in NW’s fleet of A320’s and 757’s?


I can’t wait until all of the carriers who’ve expressed in-flight wi-fi as part as their services is widespread.

I haven’t heard a peep about Southwest…it seems like they’re keeping it under wraps well. Do you know how the progress is going?

How about JetBlue’s wi-fi service? Are they going to expand it to more planes? And will they do a more full/robust wi-fi service more than yahoo e-mail/blackberries?

If you access public sites often an anonymizer site is a good workaround. Like Jennifer says unfortunately tame terms can easily wind up in the barrel of blocked sites. Searching “gay” and “city” for a bar, coffee shop or local to-do guide finds many blocked sites. I use The URL actually changes every few months too since many restricted companies will block anonymizers, but they take a bit to catch up to new ones. When the Denver airport introduced free wi-fi last year they had (and have) many critics denouncing their restrictions, as like a library it was financed… Read more »

Does anyone know if there will be plug-ins to preserve battery life along with the Wi-Fi access. If not, this service on long flights won’t be worth much. Looking forward to trying it out.

I posted a question about at seat power ports on Southwest’s blog when it was first announced… they probably won’t add on-board power ports. I really wish they did. =( I’m sure that would increase costs in a huge way since they’d probably have to rewire the plane. answers from SWA powers that be: Hi Everyone – Thanks so much for all of your comments. We are very excited about this announcement and look forward to bringing you the best inflight broadband solution available as soon as possible. In answer to some of your questions above: – Yes VOIP… Read more »

Would you be able to get a refund if the filter blocked your webmail?

Don’t laugh; I’ve seen my ISPs webmail blocked.