Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, updated with new information and offers. the United Airlines announcement of new T-Mobile benefits.
Over the summer, T-Mobile announced its new “Coverage Beyond” suite of benefits for wireless subscribers.
The benefits, which launched June 21, include free airline Wi-Fi and expanded high-speed international data coverage, as well as other perks such as free AAA membership, booking deals on Priceline and even some limited gas discounts.
“With summer travel demand up and inflation affecting everyone, we’re looking to connect our customers differently,” T-Mobile’s consumer senior vice president Kevin McLaughlin told TPG in an interview at the time. “We know there’s a huge desire to get back to travel, and we’re going to help people connect to the world better, and save money, too.”
Moving forward, this coverage will now include United Airlines in addition to the three airlines — Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines — that T-Mobile launched the program with.
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Expanded high-speed international data coverage
Remote, affordable international phone access is always a traveler favorite. OLGA SHEVTSOVA/GETTY IMAGES
As part of its Coverage Beyond initiative, T-Mobile will offer its Magenta MAX and Business Unlimited Ultimate plan to customers; it includes 5 gigabytes of free high-speed data at up to 5 GB speeds each month in more than 200 countries worldwide.
The expanded access will be automatic, with no opt-ins or sign-ups required.
“Our customers want to step off the plane with their phone and want it just to work,” McLaughlin explained.
If those customers use up the 5GB of data, they can either sign up for a day pass for a fee or continue to use data at 256 kilobytes per second rates.
Regular Magenta customers (and those with most business plans), as well as customers with comparable Sprint plans, will automatically receive 256 KB per second for international data access worldwide. This is double the current speed; it’s good enough for email, texting and basic GPS directions, but not much else.
Additionally, customers will have 5 GB of high-speed access in the 11 Deutsche Telecom-covered countries (Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania and Slovakia).
This is in addition to current free texting access in all destinations. T-Mobile customers’ current benefits in Canada and Mexico (for most plans) will continue with 5 GB of high-speed data and free calls.
Free airline Wi-Fi
IAN LISHMAN/GETTY IMAGES
This launch is a relief for airline passengers facing high Wi-Fi fees and slow access speeds. Beginning June 21, T-Mobile began offering free high-speed streaming access on select Alaska, American and Delta flights, according to McLaughlin.
United has just announced it will join other airlines in offering free Wi-Fi to T-Mobile users. “If you’re an eligible T-Mobile customer, starting this fall, you’ll get free inflight Wi-Fi on all domestic and international flights,” according to United’s website. “Availability on flights operated by United Express will soon follow.”
Details on United’s program start date and eligible plans have not yet been released. It’s likely that users will have to be on the T-Mobile Magenta plan to receive this service. Stay tuned for details.
The Wi-Fi access will be available on flights covering a “robust domestic market,” McLaughlin explained. This will be based on specific airline carriers’ technical capabilities and satellite connections. T-Mobile is currently working with multiple satellite carriers to maximize its coverage across several airlines and airplane types. Some international flights will provide T-Mobile Wi-Fi coverage.
Unlimited free airline streaming Wi-Fi connections will only be available for the full flight length if you are a customer in T-Mobile’s top-tier Magenta MAX and Business Unlimited Ultimate plan. Those with equivalent Sprint plans will also benefit.
However, regular customers shouldn’t fret: T-Mobile’s Magenta plan and others will include free Wi-Fi connectivity for four full flights each year, with a free hour of access on any additional flights. In other words, customers using T-Mobile’s existing free or discounted access for services such as Apple TV, MLB Network and Netflix will now be able to stream entertainment on select flights.
Bonus travel benefits with AAA, Priceline and Shell
BLAINE FRANGER/GETTY IMAGES
T-Mobile’s Coverage Beyond program isn’t just for jet-setting international travelers. The company has reserved some benefits for domestic road trippers as well.
With a new partnership, T-Mobile offers free AAA membership (a $60 value) and 24-hour roadside assistance to all customers on Magenta, Magenta MAX and certain business plans. (Note: The AAA membership will auto-renew at market rates unless canceled.)
T-Mobile also included a 25-cent fuel discount at Shell gas stations through the week of Labor Day, and similar offers could be available in the future. McLaughlin told TPG that T-Mobile is expected to continue offering fuel discounts to customers “more in the 10 cents per gallon range” as part of its “T-Mobile Tuesdays” app-based rewards program.
An interesting wildcard in T-Mobile’s suite of new benefits is its “T-Mobile Travel with Priceline” discount travel booking program. T-Mobile customers now have access to exclusive Priceline.com hotel and rental car deals; they can book airline tickets through the program as well.
TPG hasn’t tested the booking system yet. However, customers have saved $100 per night on Hawaii hotel rooms and received $900 in discounts for a six-day Miami holiday, according to T-Mobile’s press release.
T-Mobile’s new travel benefits will be great for existing subscribers and could be an incentive for others to join the program or upgrade.
Many of the best features are only available for T-Mobile’s top-tier (and higher-priced) plans of Magenta MAX and the Business Unlimited Ultimate. However, even regular Magenta subscribers will enjoy notable benefits such as increased airline Wi-Fi, international coverage and AAA membership.
The gas program discounts are marginal at best, but with inflation this summer, every little bit helps.
Featured photo by urbazon/Getty Images.