CONNECTIVITY IN THE SKY

The world’s in-flight Wi-Fi offerings, ranked

One of the most sought after in-flight amenities.
One of the most sought after in-flight amenities.
Image: Reuters/Lucas Jackson
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Wi-Fi has become one of the most sought-after things on a flight, even more important to passengers than a reclining seat or extra legroom. The latest report from Routehappy, a website that compares airlines by in-flight amenities, finds that its availability is spreading fast.

The report, published today, analyzed flights scheduled to depart this coming Feb. 5—a “typical mid-week travel day”—and found that passengers have “some chance” (i.e. one-third or better) of getting Wi-Fi on almost one-quarter of the airline miles flown worldwide. On US domestic flights, there’s some chance of Wi-Fi on two-thirds of the airline miles—up from just 38% of them a year and a half ago.

On those flights that do have Wi-Fi, its performance varies. In the US, 35% of those flights had “good” Wi-Fi, meaning the equivalent of 3G connection speeds; 38% had “better” Wi-Fi, similar to 4G; and only 1% had the “best” quality, good enough for video streaming.

There were also big gaps between airlines. In the US, virtually all Virgin America flights had Wi-Fi, followed by Southwest and Delta.

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United had the fewest flights with Wi-Fi, but it has also made the most progress since mid-2013, increasing the number of flights with “some chance” of Wi-Fi by 179%. That’s way ahead of any of its rivals, though the report notes that airline mergers and fleet and schedule changes will have influenced the figures too.

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Among non-US airlines, Icelandair and Norwegian led the Wi-Fi rankings:

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