Monthly Airplane Wi-Fi Reliability Report Card: March 2019

This is my third month recording my Wi-Fi stats during my business and leisure travel.  The previous  two months weren’t pretty:

Reliable Wi-Fi is the single most important amenity to me on an airplane.  It’s not more important than arriving safely and on-time.  But, it’s the next thing on my list.  I rely on Wi-Fi so I can continue to work in the air.  It allows me to hit the ground running when I get off a plane as opposed to spending time doing triage on my ailing inbox.  2018 was a frustrating year in the air for me as it related to Wi-Fi.  When 2019 started out poorly I decided to start keeping track of my results on a monthly basis.  Let’s talke a look at what March, 2019 looked like.

March 2019 Wi-Fi Scorecard:

United Airlines: 6 working flights out of 8 (75%)

I started to think United had turned a bit of a corner.  I’ve heard bits and pieces about them improving the connectivity.  However, my first two flights in April were a complete fail, so this continues to be an issue.  I gave United the benefit of the doubt on one long flight from IAD to Seattle.  I had a few different periods of 15 minutes where the Wi-Fi didn’t work.  Since that’s a really long flight and I had Wi-Fi the majority of the time, I put that in the win column.  But, I was tempted not to given United’s overall track record of reliability.  Sorta feel like I got lucky on that flight.

American Airlines: 3 out of 3 (100%)

Alaska Airlines: 0 out of 1 on the otherwise awesome Paine Field inaugural ! (0%)

YTD Stats:

United Airlines: 10 working flights out of 20 (50%)

Southwest Airlines: 1 working flight out of 2 (50%)

Air Canada: 1 working flight out of 1 (100%)

Delta Air Lines: 1 working flight out of 1 (100%)

American Airlines: 3 working flights out of 3 (100%)

Alaska Airlines: o working flights out of 1 (0%)

Total: 16 working flights out of 28 (57%)

The Final Two Pennies

This was the best month so far this year.  It’s still pretty poor, all things considered.  But, a 75% average for the month also drags my YTD success rate to over 50%.  As a business traveler I’d sure hope these numbers would be a lot higher.

United Airlines is my primary carrier and also the worst performer (if you set aside the one Alaska Airlines flight in my sample set).  They performed at a level in March that’s just barely above where I’d consider booking elsewhere.  It’s only because of the number of nonstop flights that I stick mostly with United.  However, March was a great example of how working Wi-Fi impacts my decision-making.  The 3 flights on American this month also had nonstop options on United.  It was easy to switch that business from United to American.  In that respect, the reduction in benefits from the airline loyalty programs make it easier to be a free agent.

I said last month that I think it’s a measure of insanity that I’m tracking this information.  That’s an appropriate way to sum up my frustration with Wi-Fi on airplanes.

What has your experience been with W-Fi in the air lately?

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1 Comment

  1. sending this from a Lufthansa flight. I don’t know when they changed to charging by the MB but they reduce your speed to 64K after 1GB if you pay 30 USD. Really sucks, I use this time as you to get caught up so I don’t have to sit at my desk when I get home from travels. Can not open anything that has an attachment too slow.

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