Home > Travel information > Inflight services > Inflight connectivity and power > Inflight Wi-Fi > Wi-Fi frequently asked questions
- What is Wi-Fi?
Wi-Fi is the most commonly used local wireless data network standard that allows electronic devices to exchange data. Essentially, it allows you to connect a Web-enabled device to the Internet wirelessly.
- What kind of device is required to use United Wi-Fi?
All you need is a Wi-Fi-enabled device (802.11a/b/g or n) with an Internet browser. Please note that cellular devices without a Wi-Fi component will not work with this system, and their use is restricted to "game mode" or "airplane mode" per U.S. Federal Regulations. Inflight Wi-Fi works with most laptops, tablets and smartphones, and United Wi-Fi supports Android®, Apple®, Blackberry®, Nokia® (Symbian S60), Kindle® and Windows® platforms.
For best results, we recommend using the following operating systems and/or browsers:
- Google® Chrome™
- Internet Explorer® 7, 8 and 9 (Windows® XP, Vista® and 7)
- Mozilla® Firefox®
- Safari® on Mac OS® X
- How do I know if my device is Wi-Fi-enabled?
Many devices are Wi-Fi-certified and carry the Wi-Fi logo from the Wi-Fi Alliance. Inflight Wi-Fi works with most laptops and smartphones, and United Wi-Fi supports Android®, Apple®, Blackberry®, Nokia® (Symbian S60), Kindle® and Windows platforms.
To determine if your device is Wi-Fi-enabled, you may open the device's connection manager – which is an application used to modify the device’s network connections – and see if there is a reference to WLAN (wireless local area network), Wi-Fi or 802.11. Typically the connection manager is located in a settings or applications folder.
- Are there wireless-enabled devices available to borrow onboard?
No, United does not provide wireless-enabled devices at this time.
- When can I use United Wi-Fi?
Typically, United Wi-Fi service is available on board Wi-Fi-equipped aircraft starting at cruising altitude. Inflight announcements are made when electronic devices can be switched on after takeoff and when they need to be switched off before landing. United Wi-Fi will automatically disconnect when the cabin is prepared for landing as the aircraft descends below 10,000 feet, so please save your work regularly.
- How can I use the United Wi-Fi service?
United Wi-Fi features a portal that offers flight information, destination weather reports and free access to united.com, as well as the ability to purchase access to the United Wi-Fi service. If you purchase access, you can check email and browse the Internet. As is common on many other public wireless networks, we will attempt to filter inappropriate content.
- How do I connect to the United Wi-Fi network?
The following are basic steps which apply to most wireless devices:
- Before the flight leaves the gate and electronic devices must be turned off, make sure that your wireless device is in airplane mode (if applicable).
- Once the flight crew has announced that it is safe to use approved portable electronics, turn on your Wi-Fi-enabled device, view available wireless networks, and select "United_Wi-Fi" to connect.
- Launch your Internet browser for immediate access to the United Wi-Fi portal.
- To purchase an Internet access plan, click "Purchase access" and enter the requested information.
- Enjoy surfing the Web above 10,000 feet.
- How many aircraft have Wi-Fi and where do they fly?
Since 2009, we’ve had Wi-Fi on our Premium Service (p.s.) fleet of three-cabin Boeing 757s flying between New York JFK and Los Angeles or San Francisco. This service is managed by the inflight Internet provider Gogo. Wi-Fi installations on non-p.s. flights began in August 2012. This service is managed by United, and we will upgrade our fleet with this technology on an ongoing basis.
- How will I know if I am going to be on an aircraft equipped with United Wi-Fi?
If an aircraft is equipped with United Wi-Fi, you will see the Wi-Fi icon on the plane, to the right of the door, when you enter the aircraft. Aircraft with United Wi-Fi will feature seatback cards with instructions for connecting. You may also view whether or not an aircraft has Wi-Fi by viewing the Amenities section of your flight status on united.com, the United mobile app or the information screen at the departure gate.
- How do I sign out of United Wi-Fi? Do I need to sign out?
There is no need to manually sign out, unless you want to clear your receipt and customer information. If you wish to sign out, simply turn off your device or select the "Sign out" link. You will still have Internet access if you sign out.
- How is the cost of Internet service calculated and what does it include?
Our pricing is for per-segment travel (from takeoff to landing) and varies based on the plan purchased and the length of the flight. The pricing for your flight is displayed in the United Wi-Fi portal prior to purchase.
When you purchase access to the Internet, you will be allowed to use the Internet for the duration of a single flight while use of portable electronic devices is permitted. For the purposes of Internet access, a single flight is defined as a flight which travels between two different cities. In some cases, your trip may require you to make a stopover between your origin and final destination. This is viewed as two different flights, even though you may have a single flight number.
We only offer single-flight access at this time, but we hope to offer additional options in the future.
- What is the difference between the Standard and Accelerated Wi-Fi options?
Both of our Wi-Fi options provide access to the Internet to check email and browse websites. Customers who purchase our Accelerated option may enjoy faster browsing speeds than those who purchase our Standard option. Actual speeds may vary based on several factors, including number of connections and types of usage.
- Does United offer a daily, weekly or monthly Wi-Fi pass?
We only offer single-flight access at this time, but we will offer additional options in the future.
- Why can’t I use my Gogo account on United Wi-Fi even though I use it on p.s. Premium Service flights?
The Wi-Fi Internet access on our p.s. flights between New York JFK and Los Angeles or San Francisco is provided and managed by Gogo. The Wi-Fi Internet access on all other aircraft is managed by United. We do not have the ability to transfer purchases between providers.
- Why can’t I use my Boingo membership as I do with Gogo on p.s. flights?
United manages the Wi-Fi Internet service on non-p.s. flights. It is not affiliated with Boingo.
- What credit cards does United accept as payment for United Wi-Fi?
United currently accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Diners Club, JCB and UATP cards. We also accept debit cards displaying the Visa or MasterCard logo. All charges are billed in U.S. dollars.
Note: When using a debit card, the purchase will be processed as a credit card transaction.
- How can I get a receipt for my Internet purchase?
If you include your MileagePlus account information when you purchase Internet access, a receipt will be sent to the email address saved in your MileagePlus account. If you purchase Internet access as a guest, a receipt will be sent to the email address you provide during the purchase process. After your purchase, you may also view your receipt by selecting the "Internet" tab within the United Wi-Fi portal. Your receipt will include a transaction number, the date of purchase, the Internet access plan purchased and the total purchase amount.
- How will the United Wi-Fi charge show up on my credit card statement?
Your payment for Wi-Fi service will appear on your credit card statement as "Inflight Wi-Fi."
Features and restrictions
- Can I use United Wi-Fi on international flights?
Many international flights will offer Wi-Fi. On 737 aircraft, however, Wi-Fi access is limited to the continental United States.
- Can I switch Internet access between devices or use Internet on multiple devices simultaneously?
You can only use your purchased Internet access on one wireless device at a time, unless you purchase access twice using separate credentials. You may switch your Internet access between two or more devices if you included your MileagePlus account information when purchasing access. Guest access is not transferable between devices.
- How can I switch Internet access between devices?
You will only be able to switch purchased Internet access between devices if you included your MileagePlus account information with your initial purchase using your Mileage Plus credentials guest access is not transferable. To switch access between devices, sign out on the first device by selecting the "Sign out" link in the upper-right hand corner or select "Switch Internet access to a new device," which will end the Internet connection on your original device. Open a browser window on the second device and select "Switch Internet access to a new device." You will then need to use the same MileagePlus account information on the second device.
- Can I use the United mobile app on board a United Wi-Fi-enabled aircraft?
Yes, the United mobile app can be used on board to purchase tickets, view flight status and more, without purchasing inflight Internet. You must download the app prior to boarding the flight.
- How do I access the United mobile app on board a United Wi-Fi-enabled aircraft?
Ensure that "United_Wi-Fi" is selected on your wireless-enabled device's list of available wireless networks, and launch the United mobile app.
- Can I download the United mobile app while onboard?
No, you will need to download the United mobile app prior to boarding the flight. It is available from the App Store (Apple), Google Play (Android) and the Amazon Shop (Kindle).
- Can I use my cell phone or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service for voice communications while inflight?
Although you are allowed to use your cell phone in airplane mode for activities such as surfing the Internet and sending email, we don't allow passengers to use the system for voice communication through a cell phone, VoIP or any similar service.
- Can I send and receive text messages (SMS messages) with United Wi-Fi?
No, you cannot send and receive text messages at this time, as we do not offer a Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) option.
- Can I participate in a videoconference while inflight?
It is against United policy to allow videoconferencing or voice communications inflight.
- Do you allow Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections?
Yes, you can access your corporate network if you have access to a VPN client and a firewall. However, we cannot guarantee that the VPN will not be dropped if there are brief, intermittent losses in connectivity. As with any wireless communication, VPNs are not inherently secure. Therefore, United recommends that you take appropriate measures to ensure the security of your wireless connections.
- Do you block any ports that I may use (SMTP, telnet, RDP, Peer-to-Peer)?
We may block Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), but all other ports remain open.
- Why can't I use Netflix or other streaming video websites?
Streaming video from a website requires extensive bandwidth and will not work as well on a plane as it does on the ground. United Wi-Fi streaming video content, available on select aircraft, requires a small amount of bandwidth by accessing video stored on the aircraft.
- How much data can I download and upload?
Usage is unlimited, but we may control usage to the extent that we need to in order to ensure that everyone who is connected to our network will have a good experience. These limitations will depend on the number of users simultaneously connected and how much bandwidth they are using.
- Is there a time limit for Wi-Fi on a flight?
If you purchase Wi-Fi access, you will be able to use Wi-Fi the entire time that electronic devices are permitted during the flight.
- Does United Wi-Fi restrict what content I may view?
United uses content filtering technology and policies as we deem appropriate to ensure the best possible inflight Internet experience for our passengers.
- What is the difference between United Wi-Fi and the Internet services used by other airlines?
We use the most robust satellite solutions available for our new installations, offering a better and faster Internet experience for our customers.
- What should I do if I have trouble connecting to United Wi-Fi?
First, you should confirm that the aircraft and your device are Wi-Fi-enabled, and then try disconnecting and connecting again. If connection problems persist, we advise contacting your device manufacturer or your company's network administrator for continued support after the flight. Please note that the flight crew is not trained to provide technical support for the Wi-Fi system. Below is a general how-to for the most commonly used devices. This information can also be found in the FAQ section of the United Wi-Fi portal on board Wi-Fi-equipped flights.
- How do I connect to United Wi-Fi with my iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad?
- Go to Settings and enable Airplane Mode.
- Tap "Wi-Fi" and then enable Wi-Fi, and connect to the "United_Wi-Fi" network.
- Hit the Home button and open your browser.
- How do I connect to United Wi-Fi with my Android device?
- Go to Settings and select “Wireless & Networks.”
- Enable Airplane Mode and then turn on the Wi-Fi connection.
- Select Wi-Fi Settings and then select the “United_Wi-Fi” network.
- Open your Internet browser.
- How do I connect to United Wi-Fi with my BlackBerry device?
- Go to Manage Connections and disable Mobile and Bluetooth.
- Enable the Wi-Fi, select “Set up Wi-Fi” and then scan for networks.
- Connect to the “United_Wi-Fi” network, and then open your browser.
- Select “Wi-Fi Hotspot Login.”
- What should I do if my BlackBerry browser ID is set to emulate Firefox or Internet Explorer, so I can't use United Wi-Fi?
- Open your browser, hit the BlackBerry key and select “Options.”
- Select Browser Configuration and select “BlackBerry” in the Browser ID dropdown.
- I was locked out of my MileagePlus account while trying to sign up for Internet access as a MileagePlus member. What can I do?
After six incorrect sign-in attempts, your MileagePlus account is locked to ensure that we maintain the security of your account. We recommend that you purchase Internet access for this flight as a guest, and contact the MileagePlus Service Center after your flight to have your account unlocked.
- What should I do if I lose my connection while browsing the Internet?
Although we don't anticipate that this will happen often, if you become disconnected, simply re-launch your browser to continue Web browsing. VPN users may need to sign in to their VPN sessions again.
- Google Chrome
- On the Web browser menu, click on the "Customize and control Google Chrome" and select "Settings."
- In the "Settings" section, click on "Show advanced settings..."
- Under "Privacy," click on the "Content settings..."
- Click on the "OK" button to close the window.
- Close the Settings tab.
- Click on the "Reload this page" button of the Web browser to refresh the page.
- Internet Explorer
- On Web browser menu, click "Tools" menu and select "Internet Options."
- In the Internet Options window, select the "Security" tab.
- Click on the "Custom level..." button.
- When the "Security Settings - Internet Zone" dialog window opens, look for the "Scripting" section.
- In the "Active Scripting" item, select "Enable."
- When the "Warning!" window pops out asking "Are you sure you want to change the settings for this zone?" select "Yes."
- Click on the "OK” button to close the “Internet Options” window.
- Click on the "Refresh" button of the Web browser to refresh the page.
- Mozilla Firefox
- On the Web browser, click "Firefox" menu and then select "Options."
- In the Options window, select the "Content" tab.
- Click on the "OK" button to close the Options window.
- Click on the "Reload current page" button of the Web browser to refresh the page.
- Opera – version 9 or earlier
- Opera – version 10 or later
- On the Web browser menu, click "Tools" and select "Preferences."
- In the Preferences window, select the "Advanced" tab.
- On the "Advanced" tab, click on "Content" menu item.
- In the opened Preferences window, click on the "OK" button to close it.
- Click on the "Reload" button of the web browser to refresh the page.
- On the Web browser menu, click on the "Edit" and select "Preferences".
- In the "Preferences" window, select the "Security" tab.
- Click on the "Reload the current page" button of the Web browser to refresh the page.
- Click on the "apps" option on your phone and select the "Browser" option.
- Click the menu button in the browser and select "Settings" towards the bottom of the menu screen.
- Select "Advanced" from the Settings screen.
- Launch your Blackberry’s web browser. Press your phone’s “Menu” button while in an active browser window.
- Click “Options” from the menu screen. Select “Browser Configuration” from the Blackberry’s browser options menu.
- Go to the Home screen by pressing the Home button or by unlocking your phone.
- Press the “Settings” button.
- Select “Safari” from the “Settings” menu.
- Press the “Home” button to return the iPhone home screen.
- Windows Mobile – version 5 or earlier
- Tap "Start" and locate the Opera Mini Web browser's icon in the "Apps" folder. Select this icon to launch the program.
- Tap "Menu" in the lower right-hand corner of the Web browser window. Select "Settings" from the list of options that appears, then choose "Advanced."
- Confirm and save your settings by tapping the check mark in the lower left-hand corner of the Settings screen.
- Windows Mobile – version 6 or later
- Connect your smartphone to your computer using a USB cable. Wait for Windows to recognize the device. You will see a notification at the notification area on your taskbar next to the clock.
- Open your Web browser and navigate to the Java website. Click on the link "Free Java Download."
- Click on "Run" instead of "Save" when the download dialog box appears. This step ensures that Java is installed both on your computer and the smartphone connected to it. You will see a download/sync sign on your smartphone screen.
- Wait as Windows finishes the download process. Do not disconnect or press any button during this process.
- Tap "OK" when the installation is complete. Disconnect the phone.