Spirit Airlines has spent the last three years equipping its fleet with wi-fi and now that I’ve had a chance to try it I can report it’s cheap, fast, and widely available.
Spirit Installs WiFi Connectivity
In the summer of 2019, an announcement that Spirit Airlines plans to install wifi across the Ultra Low-Cost Carrier (ULCC) broke ranks with other discount carriers. Installing inflight wifi services aboard its “fit fleet” of all relatively new Airbus A320 family aircraft has taken the better part of the last three years but is nearly complete at this point. The “Ka” band receivers offer the promise of high-speed internet inflight.
Neither Frontier nor Allegiant (America’s other ULCCs) has installed wifi aboard their aircraft. Southwest, one of the nation’s leading low-cost carriers installed its internet capability as it began to compete for business traffic. Adding wifi is among other business-friendly changes Spirit has made in the last couple of years.
Fast, and Cheap
I sampled the service on a trip from Pittsburgh to Fort Myers and was shocked by both the affordability and the speed offered.
Connecting to the service on my laptop I navigated to spiritwifi.com and found a standard inflight wifi connection screen and the following two pricing levels. Initial speculation was that internet access would be offered at a price of $6.50 but on my Spirit Airlines flight, I was able to connect at two different speed levels for either $3 or $5 for a higher rate of speed.
Compared to other prices for US carriers, Spirit wifi was surprisingly inexpensive. For comparison, short flights run between $8-15 domestically on other carriers like United Airlines, around $25 for transcontinental flights. Light internet usage for a phone was just $3 for this flight with about two hours of usable internet based on our flight time.
Unlike most carriers, Spirit advertises that guests can stream from their services (Netflix, Hulu, HBOMax, etc.) whereas others prohibit such. However, that would take a reasonable amount of download speed to achieve. Only JetBlue advertises a competing level of services.
In my experience, download speeds consistently hovered just shy of 10mbps, which was a welcome surprise from GoGo service offered elsewhere.
I was busy with work so I didn’t have a chance to try streaming though I regret not at least firing up a streaming app for long enough to see if it would work. That said, standard definition typically requires 3-10 mbps, 1080p HD needs 10-18 mbps so that would be a greater challenge based on my speed test results.
Our trip was domestic, but as the Spirit network extends extensively throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. I couldn’t speak to coverage en route or within foreign markets.
Spirit Airlines customers should welcome this ancillary fee with open arms. It’s less expensive than wifi on other carriers, faster than most (uploads would be a struggle for large attachments but emails are a breeze), and a very customer-friendly approach. To truly remove all barriers for business travelers, some power ports need to be installed, but with the ability to connect during flights is key and a welcome addition.
What do you think? Have you tried Spirit’s wifi? If you don’t fly Spirit, how has your onboard wifi experience been? Would you pay more for faster internet availability?