Monthly Airplane Wi-Fi Reliability Report Card: April 2019

This is my fourth month recording my Wi-Fi stats during my business and leisure travel.  March was my best month so far, but still not great:

April 2019 Wi-Fi Scorecard

United Airlines: 4 working flights out of 8 (50%)

Another ugly month for United.  There were two notable instances this month.  I had a connecting flight through ORD where I ended up with the same plane on both segments.  Yay, me!  Wi-Fi was inoperable on both flights.  It’s a good illustration that at least some of the problems plaguing United aren’t the type that can be solved quickly on the ground.  At least, I hope that was the case during my 2-hour layover.  Because, if they could have fixed and didn’t bother…..

I also had one flight that I didn’t include in the grid.  It was a red-eye from the west coast.  I was trying to sleep through most of the flight.  The brief period where I was awake, the Wi-Fi wasn’t working wonderfully.  Since it wasn’t the majority of the flight, I didn’t include it in the math.

American Airlines: 2 working flight out of 3 (66%)

I probably could have scored this 1 out of 3, given how bad the speeds were on one of my American flights.  But, I was able to send and receive e-mail pretty consistently throughout the flight.

Private Plane: 2 working flights out of 2 (100%)

I’ve only had the chance to fly on a private plane a handful of times in my life.  It’s pretty darn awesome each time it’s happened.  I plan to write a separate post on the plane. The short version is that our company owns it and every once in a great while I get to ride on the plane for work purposes. That was the case for a quick roundtrip from Las Vegas to Reno recently.  It was also the first time on this specific plane, with GoGo’s business jet Wi-Fi. Boy, did it work incredibly well!  I wish all my flights were like that.

YTD Stats:

United Airlines: 14 working flights out of 28 (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: 5 working flights out of 6 (83%)

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

Private Plane: 2 working flights out of 2 (100%)

Total: 24 working flights out of 41 (59%)

The Final Two Pennies

My working Wi-Fi percentage for the year has climbed from 57% to 59%.  That’s only by virtue of the fact that I was one of two passengers on a private plane where the Wi-Fi worked perfectly.  Absent that, the numbers barely move at all.

At this point, I believe we have a large enough sample size to say that my notional comments about how bad United Wi-Fi is are backed up by the stats.  American Airlines is the only other airline where I have enough sessions to talk about, though 6 is still a pretty small sample size.  I had heard that United might have been making some software updates that would positively impact the reliability in late March.  My April results don’t bear that out.  May has started out to be a mostly mixed bag.

Four months into this tracking project, and the only thing I feel good about is that the math is backing up my assertion of how unreliable United has been so far with Wi-Fi in 2019.  I definitely don’t feel good about being on 41 flights through the end of May.

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

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2 Comments

  1. I fly UAL every month, only non-stop from CLE-LAX. I am around 35% working for most of the trip. I cannot recall in the last year when the WIFI actually worked the entire time. The 737-900’s are the worst and many times this year they announce no Internet before we eve take off. UAL is pathetic. Smizek the idiot ex-CEO bought into DTV internet connection which is a disaster. I actually ask for a refund at the start of every flight because they owe me so much money for bad service. The attendants can now issue you a refund electronically. I just had that happen to me on a flight from DEN-CLE. they are as frustrated as we are but now have the ability to actually do somethin. If I ran Untied I would Havel cleaned out the IT department in Chicago years ago.

    1. Howard, the Wi-Fi situation on United is quite bad. And, IMO, an electronic refund misses the point of the need for some customers to be connected. A $12 refund doesn’t come close to covering my lost productivity on a 2-hour flight with no Wi-Fi. I’m sure you and I agree on this.

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