Lots of airlines are now offering Wi-Fi onboard, but unfortunately, it’s rarely free. All of Virgin America has Wi-Fi, and many others have a large percentage of their fleet wired thru Gogo, including Delta, Alaska Airlines, American, and United. Gogo is pretty expensive but a little known tip is that if you buy a flight pass before you board your flight, it’s often significantly less expensive, as much as half the price. You can also buy Gogo subscriptions by the month or year and save a fortune, but this is most useful if you frequently travel for business. JetBlue actually offers a free in-flight Wi-Fi option: Fly-Fi with Amazon. You can send and receive emails, browse the Internet, and even stream movies and TV shows on Amazon Video! Other airlines, such as Southwest, offer free Wi-Fi to their most loyal members. Here’s how you can magically connect to Wi-Fi on an airplane in the first place.
At the airportkudla/Shutterstock
Boingo Hot Spot access is a great option, and if you are subscribed, you can use it virtually around the world. It’s a great fail-safe if you find yourself in an airport that doesn’t have free Wi-Fi. You can also purchase a personal hot spot and carry that with you. When using airport Wi-Fi, make sure you’re connecting to the airport’s public hot spot or perhaps one of the airport’s restaurants if they offer Wi-Fi. However, keep in mind you are connecting to a public Wi-Fi network, your browsing is not encrypted. As a result, travelers should avoid checking their banking accounts or other sensitive information. “If you’re making any online purchases, always make sure the site you’re on starts with https:// to ensure the online payment process will be secure,” says Safi Mojaddidi from Ubiquiti Labs [UBNT], creators of AmpliFi Mesh Wi-Fi. When choosing a seat, pass on sitting on the floor or behind support pillars because your Wi-Fi signal will potentially be weaker. “The more obstructions in between you and the Wi-Fi access point means reduced performance. Instead, choose a high-top seat with the skinny table-top that many of the airports now have near the gates. They’re elevated, providing clearer access to the airport’s Wi-Fi access points, which are usually installed on the ceiling,” says Mojaddidi. Find out 13 secrets the airlines will never tell you.
Personal hot spotsAntonio-Guillem/Shutterstock
These are a great option if you don’t want to have to mess with your phone provider’s international plan or buy sim cards. Products like Skyroam are available for rental or purchase and even can be found in many airport mall kiosks. Day passes on this hot spot run around $8 a day and it works as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot anywhere in the world—and you can connect up to five devices, meaning you can save a fortune on hotel Wi-Fi rates as well. Another option is a Google Pixel or the Google Fi plan, which allows you to automatically connect the best available signal (either Wi-Fi or a 4G partner). It works out to be around $50 per month. For a frequent traveler, this can truly been a game changer.