Edited by: Nick Ellis
& Keri Stooksbury
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U.S. carriers began rolling out inflight internet services nearly a decade ago and have been slowly improving the experience. Now, it is almost expected that airlines will have Wi-Fi on their flights.
Like many other airlines, United Airlines does not use a consistent Wi-Fi provider. Instead, the Wi-Fi provider used depends on the type of aircraft.
Let’s dig into the details of United’s Wi-Fi, including its providers, what kind of Wi-Fi service you can expect, and how much you may (or may not!) have to pay for it.
|Wi-Fi Provider||Select Aircraft|
Note that coverage is limited when traveling over polar regions and some countries with regulations restricting inflight Wi-Fi access.
Reliability has long been an issue for inflight internet services, but things are certainly better than they were a few years ago. While providers have been working with airlines to improve speed and reliability, you shouldn’t be surprised if you find slower speeds (if not failing Wi-Fi) on some of your flights.
If you have important work that can only be done with Wi-Fi, we don’t recommend planning your day around doing it in flight.
Yes — but not on all flights. Currently, streaming services are only available on aircraft equipped with Viasat Wi-Fi service.
United Airlines Wi-Fi Fees
Available on select Wi-Fi-equipped aircraft and works with iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp
Messaging and streaming available on domestic and short-haul international flights, including 737 and select 757-300 aircraft, and A319s supported by Viasat and Thales
|Purchased on board||Varies from ~$8-10||
Prices depend on the flight duration and aircraft Wi-Fi provider
|Pre-purchased 1-hour pass||$7||
Valid for 1 hour of continuous use from activation. Expires 30 days after purchase. Valid on Gogo-equipped aircraft.
|Pre-purchased 24-hour pass||$19||
Valid for 24 hours of continuous use from activation. Expires 30 days after purchase. Valid on Gogo-equipped aircraft.
|North America monthly pass||$49 per month||
Monthly unlimited use on North American Wi-Fi-equipped flights
|Global monthly pass||$69 per month||
Monthly unlimited use on North American and international Wi-Fi-equipped flights
|North America annual pass||$539||
Monthly unlimited use on North American Wi-Fi-equipped flights
|Global annual pass||$689 per year||
Annual unlimited use on North American and international Wi-Fi-equipped flights
Hot Tip: United recently teamed up with T-Mobile for its customers to get free inflight Wi-Fi on all United domestic and international flights. United plans to add this service on flights operated by United Express in the future.
If you’re a frequent traveler, buying a monthly or yearly subscription pass can be a good way to save on Wi-Fi.
For example, if you fly 6+ times per month and spend $8 to $10 per flight, a monthly pass can present decent savings. The savings are more significant the more frequently you fly.
One option for frequent travelers to save on Wi-Fi is with the U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card, which comes with 12 free Gogo Wi-Fi passes per year. The passes are valid on domestic and international flights, per segment. But, this will only be of benefit if your United flight offers service with Gogo, not any of the other 3 internet providers.
If you’re a United credit card holder, you can use your card to purchase Wi-Fi onboard and get a 25% statement credit. That’s because all of the United credit cards come with 25% back on inflight purchases.
If your United flight offers Wi-Fi through United’s Wi-Fi portal, you could use an eligible American Express card to get United Wi-Fi for free.
American Express cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express offer airline incidental credits. And if you select United as your airline of choice for the year, the credits can offset the cost of Wi-Fi.
At a minimum, we value United miles at 1.3 cents per mile. If you redeem miles for Wi-Fi, you won’t even get 1 cent per mile. You’d definitely be better off saving your miles for future flights.
Whether buying Wi-Fi is worth it to you is going to be a personal decision. If staying connected to friends during flights makes the flying experience more enjoyable, then it might be worth it.
If you’re hoping to get a little extra work done (or your employer is paying for it), it might also be worth it.
Inflight internet has come a long way over the last number of years, with more coverage options and more airlines, including United, offering free service to eligible customers on select flights.
Luckily for United fliers, United has fitted almost all of its aircraft with Wi-Fi capability. So regardless of when and where you’re flying, you’ll have the option to purchase Wi-Fi access.
The information regarding the U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The cost for United Wi-Fi varies depending on the flight, but usually ranges from ~$8 to ~$10. There are also monthly and annual subscription options. And T-Mobile customers have access to free messaging and streaming on most domestic and short-haul international flights.
With your wireless device in airplane mode with only Wi-Fi enabled, locate the “United_Wi-Fi” wireless network, then launch a browser. If you aren’t redirected to the Wi-Fi portal, type unitedwifi.com in the URL. You can then purchase a plan and begin using it.
You can purchase a United Wi-Fi Day Pass when you are booking your reservation. You can also select your trip from My Trips and view the Wi-Fi Day Pass option above your flight information.
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Always a fan of flying, it was only natural that Spencer was drawn to finding a way to improve the travel experience.
Like many, he started this journey searching for cheap flights to take him around the world. This was fun for a while, but Spencer was intrigued by the idea of flying in business and first class!
Throwing himself into what became an extensive research project, Spencer spent 3-4 hours per night learning everything he could about frequent flyer miles over the course of several months (he thinks this is normal). He runs Straight to the Points, an award-seat alert platform.
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