Jag cz/ShutterstockGone are the days when stepping onto a commercial aircraft meant involuntarily forfeiting communication with the world down below. Sure, most flights offer on-board Wi-Fi, but unless you purchase a pricey Internet package, you may find yourself dozing off between refreshing Facebook and flipping through the in-flight magazine reading stories about cities that aren’t on your itinerary (hopefully, you aren’t doing one of these things you should never do on an airplane to pass the time).
Good news frequent fliers: Delta Air Lines now offers free mobile texting through three popular messaging apps: iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. It’s available on all planes with two or more cabins that are enabled with the airline’s Internet and entertainment provider, Gogo. So if you happen to be on board one of Delta’s few 50-seat regional jets, your juicy convos will, unfortunately, have to wait until after landing. And though you can send all the emojis your heart desires, the service only works with text through a mobile device—meaning no photos, videos, or laptops.
If you plan on using it mid-flight, make sure your favorite messaging app is downloaded prior to take-off. Put your device on airplane mode, then get comfy until you safely reach the 10,000-foot mark, and connect by visiting Delta’s Gogo Wi-Fi page.
The complimentary service launched on October 1, and is the first of its kind among U.S. global carriers, though it does have domestic competition. Alaskan Airlines has a leg up on this major airline perk, having offered free in-flight messaging since January.
The effort is part of a larger Delta initiative to better the on-board customer experience, including the initiation of satellite-based, high-speed Wi-Fi through 2Ku connectivity. It’s intended to increase bandwidth to the aircraft, allowing for quick streaming to entertainment services like YouTube, Hulu, and HBO Now (and take advantage of this no-cost in-flight entertainment hack while you’re at it). So with faster Internet already available on 200 Delta airplanes, it’s safe to say that the best airline in the world may soon have competition.