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Wendy is an IFE Agent responsible for aggregating airline news specifically related to Inflight entertainment. She compiles stories relevant to business travelers, airline industry folks, marketers and tech geeks. IFE News doesn't create original content, but rather posts compelling editorial from global media outlets.

Delta, Southwest tops for inflight Wi-Fi on domestic routes

Delta, Southwest tops for inflight Wi-Fi on domestic routes

If you want to be connected to the Internet while in flight domestically, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines are your best bets among major airlines. And United Airlines for now is the worst, according to a new survey released Tuesday by Routehappy.

Overall, fliers can count on Wi-Fi to be available on 38 percent of domestic flights, covering 44 percent of flight time -– indicating longer flights are more likely to have it, according to Routehappy, which evaluates amenities on flights, such as seat room and entertainment.

American Airlines and United Airlines, top carriers in Chicago, are outfitting planes with Wi-Fi capability. United’s Wi-Fi will be satellite-based, meaning it will offer connectivity over oceans. Most Wi-Fi currently available is ground-based. Only 6.5 percent of international flights have Wi-Fi, the report said. According to the report, United is the top airline for plans to install Wi-Fi on international flights.

Chicago flights in general are not a good bet for Wi-Fi. Among the top 23 routes for Wi-Fi, only flights between Midway and Atlanta made the most-connected routes.

Also an important feature for staying connected is in-seat power for devices, such as laptops and tablets. The best airlines for Wi-Fi and in-seat power are Delta and American, according to the study.

According to Routehappy, fliers get the most value from paying for Wi-Fi in economy class when there’s at least 30 inches between seats -– room enough to open a laptop -– and flights of 500 miles or more, which equates to about an hour when electronics may be used.

The largest provider of inflight Wi-Fi is Gogo Inc., headquartered in Itasca. It raised $187 million in its initial public offering last week. It had its Wi-Fi system installed on about 81 percent of Internet-enabled North American commercial aircraft as of the end of April.

In the first three months of 2013, 6.2 percent of passengers on Gogo-enabled aircraft used the service, the company said.

gkarp@tribune.com

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