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These Are The 3 Best U.S. Airlines For Staying Connected And Getting Work Done In Economy

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Take a look around an airplane, and you’ll find three main types of flyers: the snoozer, the unbothered leisure traveler, and the productivity guru. 

For those of us who fall in that last camp but don’t necessarily want to spring for business class every flight, getting work done and staying connected in-flight can be a serious challenge.

woman working on plane

While global airlines in the Middle East and Asia lead the global competition in work-friendly amenities, a few U.S. airlines do a good job of keeping passengers across classes connected and productive in the air.

We’ve ranked the top 3 U.S. Airlines for getting work done in economy based on a few factors:

  • Wi-Fi speed and reliability 
  • Wi-Fi time limits, data limits, and device limits
  • Wi-Fi costs and hidden fees
  • In-seat outlets and USB ports
  • Space to spread out and work
Delta comfort plus seats

1. Delta 

If you’re a SkyMiles member, free 15 mbps Wi-Fi is available for all your devices on most domestic flights. Staying in touch by WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and iMessage is also free for Delta passengers. 

Delta is committed to providing free high-quality on-board Wi-Fi for everyone over the next two years as it upgrades from “Wi-Fi Onboard” (formerly Gogo) to Viasat and eliminates connectivity costs for passengers. 

Since February, most domestic flights have free Wi-Fi for SkyMiles members. Delta’s loyalty program is free; however, if travelers don’t want to join, they can pay $10 to connect or $16 for an all-day pass. 

USB ports are available in every seat, and A/C power outlets are available in economy on the vast majority of flights.

Delta Comfort Plus bulkhead row and standard economy exit row aisle seats are the best place to be for getting work done on board, with extra legroom and reliable power ports. 

JetBlue plane

2. JetBlue

JetBlue offers free gate-to-gate Wi-Fi to all passengers. The high-speed Viasat connection provides average speeds of 15mbps with no data caps or device limits, so travelers can be sure to get their work done effectively. 

On a JetBlue Airbus A321, economy passengers have an internationally compatible power outlet in every seat, while Mint Experience cabin passengers have two outlets. 

The only connectivity drawback on JetBlue flights is the lack of messaging and calling, even before takeoff and after landing.

The best value seat options for comfortable onboard working would be JetBlue’s “Even More Space” aisle seats.

alaska airlines plane taking off

3. Alaska Airlines

Depending on the aircraft, Alaska’s in-flight Wi-Fi costs $8 (E175) or $25 (737). The majority of seats from economy all the way to first-class have 110v international power ports and USB chargers.

Unfortunately, Wi-Fi is not available on the newest 737-9 Max, as is the case with many other airlines using this aircraft. 

The biggest connectivity perk for Alaska Airlines passengers is the T-Mobile partnership. U.S. T-Mobile customers get free in-flight text messaging, visual voicemail, and more.

The best seat for hunkering down with your laptop on Alaska Airlines would be seat D in the second exit row (the number varies by plane). 

Making Working In Airplane While Using His Phone And Drinking Coffee

After choosing the best airline for in-flight working needs, here are a few more ways for productive travelers to set themselves up for success:

  • Check SeatGuru before booking. Verify A/C power outlet availability and legroom information. 
  • Pre-purchase Wi-Fi if needed. Buying before boarding can save passengers up to 50%, and not just on our top 3 airlines.
  • Have Connectify ready to go. If you’re going to be charged by device, Connectify allows you to share one connection between your PC, tablet, and phone for a smaller fee.
  • Bring a device that fits the tray table. The average tray table is 9.5” x 16.5”. Avoid large clunky laptops that won’t give you any wiggle room. 
  • Choose a “sticky” charger. You want something lightweight with a ground pin… and maybe some electrical tape, just in case you encounter a common passenger problem with keeping chargers in the angled onboard power ports.
  • Beware thy neighbor. A surprise recline from the front or a sudden spill from the side can seriously damage your computer, so stay aware and keep your laptop a few inches from the front lip of the tray table. A nosy neighbor can also invade the privacy of your sensitive work information, so try a privacy screen protector.
  • Download as much offline as you can before boarding. Chrome extension Google Docs Offline, Gmail Offline Mode with Google Workspace, and Outlook’s Offline Mode can give you a leg up in case of connectivity drops. 
  • Bring earplugs or noise-canceling headphones.

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