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Delta Upgrades Wi-Fi Connectivity on its Regional Jets

The move marks the latest chapter in Delta’s optimization of its sky-high Wi-FI provision

by Samir Kadri

November 3, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Delta

Delta Air Lines is partnering with Hughes Network Systems to provide a streaming-capable Wi-Fi service on its fleet of regional jets, which includes Boeing 717s, Embraer E170/175s, and Bombardier CRJ-700/900s.

Passengers can expect the upgraded Wi-Fi to be available on these aircraft starting from mid-2024.

Photo: Delta, Boeing 717. Courtesy of Delta

Julieta McCurry, Delta’s Vice President of In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity, expressed excitement about the collaboration, noting that it “paves the way for new Wi-Fi equipment to be added to more than 400 aircraft starting in mid-2024.”

She also highlighted that the aircraft undergoing this upgrade will feature the new Delta Sync Wi-Fi login experience, providing passengers with reliable, streaming-quality connectivity on their personal devices from gate to gate.

Photo: Delta / Endeavor Air CRJ-900. Courtesy of Delta

Inconsistent and unreliable Wi-Fi has been a long-standing challenge on regional jet flights, often hindering passengers’ ability to work efficiently or stay connected during their journeys. Delta’s move to enhance in-flight connectivity is expected to raise the bar and may put pressure on its competitors, with American Airlines, in particular, being closely watched.

Delta’s strategy to offer improved Wi-Fi experiences follows its earlier efforts to provide free Wi-Fi services on most domestic flights in partnership with T-Mobile and its plans to offer free Wi-Fi on international and regional aircraft by the end of 2024.

McCurry emphasized the positive impact of these initiatives on customer satisfaction and the importance of connectivity, stating, “Fast, free Wi-Fi ranks among the top three drivers of customer satisfaction on Delta.”

The aviation industry has faced challenges in delivering top-notch in-flight Wi-Fi, primarily due to the complex nature of the satellite antennas required to connect aircraft to satellite networks.

Photo: Delta, Embraer E175. Courtesy of Delta

Smaller regional jets, such as those in Delta’s fleet, often had to rely on slower air-to-ground networks provided by companies like Gogo Business Aviation, available only above 10,000 feet.

SpaceX’s Starlink internet service, with download speeds of up to 350 MB per second, has also gained interest from airlines, including Qatar Airways. Delta’s announcement positions them as leaders in the in-flight Wi-Fi arena, with their new satellite antenna technology aimed at delivering high-speed connectivity from gate to gate.

Julieta McCurry highlighted the scale and complexity of their Wi-Fi initiative, describing it as “a world first” that surpasses offerings from other airlines.

The investment in satellite technology and infrastructure is a testament to Delta’s commitment to providing passengers with superior in-flight connectivity.