We're now well into the 21st century and expect to be connected all the time. Heck, Elon Musk has already begun launching thousands of tiny satellites to ensure that becomes our destiny. 

And yet the reality is that in-flight Wi-Fi can feel like a dial-up connection from the 1990s. Actually, it's more like the 1980s online BBS you had to dial long-distance to log in to, so you end up paying 50 bucks to spend an afternoon mostly just reading text messages.

Oh, wow, did I just date myself there or what?

Anyhow, things are slowly getting better in the economy and business classes for those of us who just need to keep up with the world below while we're in the air. Next time you're booking a flight, keep in mind that these are your top options for staying connected en route. 

JetBlue

JetBlue's in-flight internet is free, fast enough, and available on all of its flights over the contiguous United States. While competitor Delta is making moves toward going fully free, the big blue air bus has a monopoly on making the perk fleet-wide for the moment. This makes it, overall, the best airline option if keeping in touch from gate to gate is your top priority. It's just hard to argue with free. 

Virgin America

As of earlier this year, Virgin was the only other American airline that had its entire fleet outfitted for in-flight Wi-Fi. In many cases, Virgin's service should be a bit faster than what JetBlue has to offer, but Richard Branson's company does charge between $5 and $40 for the service. There have also been reports that internet is not available for the full duration of certain routes, so you may want to research your specific itinerary. 

Southwest

Southwest is getting close to offering internet on 100 percent of its flights with a very on-brand offering that is a reasonable mix of value and quality. For eight bucks, you get all-day access. Streaming services are blocked, but if it's news or entertainment you're after, downloading the free Southwest app gets you free live TV from more than 15 major networks and a selection of movies. 

Delta Air Lines

Delta began a trial in May to introduce free in-flight Wi-Fi, with the goal of matching JetBlue and going fully free within a few years. One caveat here is that Delta's free product won't be able to handle streaming, but will keep you abreast of all the latest horrors on Twitter, which often have to do with Delta Air Lines

Published on: Sep 18, 2019
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