United Airlines has announced it will soon allow travelers to purchase in-flight Wi-Fi service with frequent flyer miles. That’s right, air warriors. If catching up on some work while flying to you next business appointment is part of your regular routine, then this new feature may come in handy.
According to Reuters, United Airlines began testing a new web portal last week which would allow customers to log in a redeem frequent flyer miles for in-flight internet access on their smartphones, laptops, and other internet-connected devices. While there are still some details to work out, the company hopes to make the service available by early 2016 in the US and by mid-year on international flights.
While many airlines have already begun allowing users to treat frequent flyer miles as currency, by allowing them to be redeemed for hotel rooms, movie theater tickets and other travel related items, United is the first to propose frequent flier miles be used to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi. The decision is part of a larger strategy to improve customer satisfaction with the airline which is currently ranked the lowest for all American airlines according to J.D. Power's 2015 ranking.
One weird downside to the deal, however, is that while frequent flyer miles can be used to get free internet access aboard flights, the Wi-Fi won’t actually be entirely free. That doesn't mean free Wi-Fi, however.
According to United's Vice President of eCommerce and Merchandising, Scott Wilson some nominal fee for the Wi-Fi will be required to curb excessive usage by customers, thereby slowing the service down for all. In addition, the number of frequent flyer miles needed to purchase wi-fi will be fluid depending on supply and demand.