Is it safe to connect to airplane wifi while traveling?

A person is connecting to the airplane wifi safely with a VPN.

Surfing the internet with in-flight wifi? Protect your data with a VPN to ensure secure browsing while traveling.

After boarding your plane and taking the window seat, you decide to watch the in-flight entertainment on your phone and catch up on some work on your laptop. You don’t think twice before connecting to the airplane wifi, but should you have?

Relaxation is a good idea, but don’t be too quick to relax about your wifi connection in-flight. In-flight wifi is far from secure—just like any other public wifi. Cybercriminals may target wifi networks used by travelers. In fact, they count on tourists getting into vacation mode and letting down their guard.

Why is unprotected in-flight wifi a bad idea? Here are two reasons.

  1. Public wifi is a playground for hackers who can intercept everything from your bank details to social media passwords, making your private data vulnerable to theft.
  2. You might just want to clear your inbox while traveling, but viruses and malware can hitch a ride—turning your journey into a digital nightmare that lingers long after you land. 

FAQs about airplane wifi

You might have other questions about wifi on airplanes. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions.

How do planes connect to wifi?

Airplanes access wifi in two ways: via land-based cell towers with an antenna underneath the plane, and over oceans using satellites with an antenna atop the plane. This activity turns the plane into a wifi hotspot that allows passengers to browse, stream, and stay connected throughout the flight.

Can you use a VPN with airplane wifi?

Yes, you can use a virtual private network (VPN) for added security when using airplane wifi—but using a VPN in the air isn't foolproof. Airplane wifi can be flimsy, which means your VPN may momentarily drop during a flight, leaving an entryway for hackers. That's why avoiding airplane wifi is the best way to stay 100% secure. Having said that, if you absolutely need to use the wifi, keep an eye on your VPN connection.

How do you keep your info safe while using a plane's wifi?

Use airplane wifi only for actions that won't reveal any of your private data, such as reading the news or watching a movie. For work that could put your passwords and privacy at risk—email, social media, or banking—armor up with a VPN.

How much does airplane wifi cost?

Airplane wifi typically costs anywhere between $5 daily to $50 for monthly passes, though some airlines offer free wifi or free in-air entertainment. Each airline has its own pricing scheme.

To connect, or not to connect…

The best way to avoid falling victim to in-flight network hackers is to decline airplane wifi service altogether. But if you need to connect, don't make any sensitive transactions, such as checking your bank balance or logging into your email.

If you can't live without wifi while you're in the air, consider getting a VPN. It will not only help protect you while you using airplane wifi, but it will also help you stay secure when connecting to any other public wifi while traveling. Remember, practicing cyber safety is the first step toward a truly relaxing experience.

Abby Miller
  • Abby Miller
  • Writer
Abby Miller is a writer who covers cybersecurity and consumer topics.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. Our offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about Cyber Safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses. The Norton and LifeLock brands are part of Gen Digital Inc. 

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