How to Use a VPN on Airplane Wi-Fi: Complete 2024 Guide

Updated on: May 29, 2024
Fact Checked by Eric Goldstein
Gjurgjica Panova Gjurgjica Panova
Updated on: May 29, 2024 Writer

Only 3 Steps (Quick + Easy) to Use a VPN on Airplane Wi-Fi in 2024:

  • Choose a fast and secure VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN, as it has strong security features and the fastest speeds on the market.
  • Download and install the VPN. The whole process shouldn’t take longer than 2 minutes.
  • Open the VPN app and connect to a server. You can now securely go online via your Wi-Fi connection on the plane!

Airplane Wi-Fi is convenient, but it comes with certain risks — it’s like connecting to a public Wi-Fi network in the air. Hackers can intercept your data, gain access to your digital life, and steal your personal information.

The best way to secure your traffic connected to airplane Wi-Fi is with a VPN. It encrypts your traffic, which makes it unreadable, even to someone who manages to intercept it. Plus, it hides your real IP address and assigns you a new one that matches the location of the server you choose to connect to.

The best VPN to connect on an airplane is ExpressVPN. It comes with advanced security features that will protect your data from cyberattacks and the fastest speeds on the market for all of your online activities during your flight. Editors' Note: ExpressVPN and this site are in the same ownership group.


Why You Need a VPN on Airplane Wi-Fi

  • Security & privacy. Airplane Wi-Fi networks are public, which makes them a potential target for cybercriminals, as they lack the security measures of private networks. When you connect to a VPN, your data is encrypted before it leaves your device. The encrypted data is then sent through a secure tunnel to the VPN server. This encryption ensures that even if someone intercepts your data, they won’t be able to read it. VPNs also hide your IP address, which reveals your general location, and a lot of the good ones also come with extras like an ad, tracker, and malicious site blocker.Why You Need a VPN on Airplane Wi-Fi
  • Avoid bandwidth throttling. Some Wi-Fi providers might limit your speed if they detect high data usage or certain types of traffic. With a VPN, your traffic is encrypted, so the internet provider won’t be able to throttle your speed based on the type of activity.
  • Secure multiple devices. Most VPN services allow you to connect multiple devices under a single subscription. This means you can protect not just your laptop but also your smartphone, tablet, or any other device you might be using on the plane.

Best VPNs for Airplane Wi-Fi in 2024

Quick summary of the best VPNs for airplane Wi-Fi:

  • 🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best overall VPN for airplane Wi-Fi in 2024 (high-end security & super-fast speeds).
  • 🥈2. Private Internet Access — Highly customizable & secure VPN apps with great speeds on airplane Wi-Fi.
  • 🥉3. CyberGhost VPN — Great for beginners (has very intuitive apps with convenient automation).

Editors' Note: Intego, Private Internet Access, CyberGhost and ExpressVPN are owned by Kape Technologies, our parent company

VPN Not Working on Airplane Wi-Fi? Try These Troubleshooting Tips

Attempt to Connect to an Alternate Server

VPN Not Working on Airplane Wi-Fi? Try These Troubleshooting Tips

Servers experience temporary downtime, get overloaded, or are under maintenance. If that’s the case, your VPN won’t be able to establish a connection. The best way to get around this is to try and connect to a different server. I recommend looking for a server in the same location or in the same area to get the best possible speeds.

Purge All VPN App Cache

The files and data your VPN app accumulates can become corrupted and interfere with your VPN’s ability to connect to its servers. To fix this issue, you’ll need to clear your VPN’s app cache.

To remove the cache from your VPN app, navigate your device settings. Then, go to Applications > Manage Installed Applications > [Your VPN App] > Clear Cache.

Check Whether It’s the VPN Connection

If the airplane Wi-Fi connection is down, the VPN won’t be able to connect to a server. The only way to check whether that’s the case while on the plane is to try to visit a site or open an app without first connecting to the VPN. If you can’t access anything online, then it’s probably not your VPN app that’s causing connectivity issues, and you’ll just have to wait for the airplane Wi-Fi to reestablish its connection.

Reinstall Your VPN App

Sometimes, making changes to your VPN settings may cause connection issues. To resolve this, try reinstalling the VPN app, which will revert all configurations back to their factory settings.

To reinstall the app, navigate to your device’s home screen, access Settings, then Applications. Select Manage Installed Applications, find your VPN app from the list, and choose Uninstall. After that, you can download and install the VPN from your device’s app store.

Ensure Your VPN App Is Up-To-Date

An outdated VPN app can be a source of multiple issues. In most cases, your outdated VPN app can’t connect to the VPN’s servers because it’s no longer compatible with the updated servers. Fixing this is pretty straightforward; go to your device’s app store and check if there’s an update available.

To avoid this issue, turn on the auto-download feature in your device’s app store. This automatically downloads and installs all updates for your VPN app, ensuring you benefit from the most recent improvements and fixes.

Do Free VPNs Work on Airplane Wi-Fi?

Yes, free VPNs work on airplane Wi-Fi, but I don’t recommend using them.

The biggest downside for me is that many free VPNs lack basic security features, which defeats the purpose of using a VPN while connected to airplane Wi-Fi in the first place. There are some good free VPNs that are pretty secure, though they too limit certain features to paid users including strict limits on bandwidth and speed.

This is why I suggest investing in a premium VPN — it provides you with superior security, rapid speeds, and excellent support for streaming while using airplane Wi-Fi, any other public networks, or even when you’re at home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to use a VPN on airplane Wi-Fi?

It’s absolutely safe to use a VPN on airplane Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi networks, including those on airplanes, are commonly targeted by hackers, as they can intercept unencrypted traffic and steal personal data or spread malware. All VPNs on this list encrypt your data, which means even if a malicious party intercepts your data, they won’t be able to read it. They also come with advanced security features, like full leak protection, and extras like malicious site blockers to further protect your browsing while connected to airplane Wi-Fi.

Do VPNs work in Airplane Mode?

VPNs won’t work in airplane mode if your device is disconnected from the internet. However, on most devices, you can manually turn Wi-Fi back on after switching to airplane mode. If you’re on an airplane and have access to in-flight Wi-Fi, you can connect to the Wi-Fi network and then activate your VPN. This way, your device will be in airplane mode, but you can still use a VPN over the airplane’s Wi-Fi.

How does airplane Wi-Fi work?

Airplane Wi-Fi operates in 2 ways: air-to-ground (ATG) and satellite technology. With air-to-ground technology, towers on the ground send signals up to receivers on the airplane. This type of connection works well over land where ground towers are accessible.

Satellite technology involves satellites that send signals that are received by the plane through antennas located typically on the top of the plane. Satellite technology allows for broader coverage, including over oceans. While most airline Wi-Fi connections are secure, you can never be 100% — this is why I recommend using a VPN when you’re in the air.

Will a VPN slow down my internet speed on airplane Wi-Fi?

A VPN will slow down your internet speed due to the encryption process and the extra miles that your internet traffic needs to travel to get routed through the VPN server before it gets to its final destination. However, a high-quality VPN, like ExpressVPN, minimizes the latency and maintains fast speeds across all servers.

Best VPNs for Airplane Wi-Fi in 2024 — Final Score:

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About the Author
Gjurgjica Panova
Updated on: May 29, 2024

About the Author

Gjurgjica is a cybersecurity writer who is driven by her passion for the written word and anything tech-related. When she is not in the role of a Safety Detective, she can be found wrapped in a comfy blanket, binge-watching her favorite shows.

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