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Wi-Fi available on 83% of U.S. airline seats

Wi-Fi available on 83% of U.S. airline seats
Wireless Internet is now available on 83% of seats on U.S. airlines, up from about 74% last year, according to a study by Routehappy. (Delta Air Lines)

Your chance of getting the Internet on a U.S. airline has jumped to 83%, up from about 74% in 2015.

But if you fly on foreign carriers , your chances of connecting to the Internet from the cabin drop to only 28%.

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Those are some of the findings from a report by Routehappy, a New York company that tracks onboard airline amenities.

Of airlines worldwide, Emirates, United and Lufthansa lead all carriers in offering Wi-Fi on long-haul flights, the Routehappy study found.

But anyone who has ever tried to stream a movie through onboard Wi-Fi knows that the availability of Wi-Fi is not as important as the speed of the Wi-Fi.

The bad news is that only 7.2% of fliers worldwide get access to Wi-Fi fast enough to stream videos or movies, up from 6% in 2015, the study found. Routehappy did not calculate that rate for U.S. airlines alone.

Still, U.S. carriers are making high-speed Wi-Fi a priority.

JetBlue, for example, announced this week that it has installed free, high-speed Wi-Fi on all of its planes. The satellite-based service through Carlsbad-based ViaSat is capable of speeds of up to 20 mbps per device but only works on flights in the contiguous U.S.

Southwest Airlines announced in December that it is hiring a second Wi-Fi provider to offer wireless Internet on 100% of its planes by the end of this year. The speeds are expected to be up to three times faster than current speeds. The price to connect to the Wi-Fi is not expected to rise from the current charge of $8 a day, per device, and live television will remain free.

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