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Which airlines have the best in-flight Wi-Fi?

Which airlines have the best in-flight Wi-Fi?
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK

If you travel a lot, especially for work, you know that Wi-Fi connections in flight are not great. In fact, they're pricey and you usually get a slow connection.

Ultimately, you don't get much work done, or have much fun watching TV and movies on streaming services like Netflix. There's a reason for that, as it turns out.

Most airlines simply haven't had enough Internet capacity for everyone to use, and often relied on ground-based cellphone towers for their Wi-Fi connections. So, they charged in part to prevent too many passengers from overloading their Internet system.

That's starting to change with airlines, and with in-flight Wi-Fi carriers like Gogo turning to the skies for Internet connections. Specifically, you may soon be connecting in flight to the Internet via satellites, with faster speeds and lower prices (we can hope).

It's likely these faster, cheaper in-flight Wi-Fi connections will mostly affect newer planes. It could be costly for airlines to overhaul their planes' Wi-Fi setups.

So, which airlines currently have the best Wi-Fi service? If free is your main criterion, JetBlue tops Conde Nast Traveler's list.

Conde Nast says JetBlue was the last of the big airlines to add Wi-Fi connections. So, it had the advantage of seeing what worked and what didn't. What didn't work was slow connections and high prices.

JetBlue offers free Wi-Fi through the ViaSat system. Every passenger on most of its planes has access, and JetBlue offers plenty of free content, like streaming Major League Baseball games.

You may be wondering how JetBlue can give away Wi-Fi when many other airlines charge for it. One word: Advertisers, like Amazon and MasterCard.

Another good airline for Wi-Fi is Southwest, although it charges customers $8 for a satellite connection. However, advertisers help Southwest offer dozens of TV networks, plus songs from Apple Music.

Virgin Airlines also ranks high on Conde Nast's list because it offers free Netflix. However, that deal ends in the spring and most of Virgin's planes don't have satellite Wi-Fi.

Airlines that don't fare so well with Conde Nast are American, Alaska, Delta and United. But they do better than airlines like Allegiant, Frontier, Hawaiian and Spirit, which don't offer in-flight Wi-Fi.

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