Problems connecting to in-flight WiFi

On a recent flight (jetBlue, LAX->FLL), both my iPad and my iPhone connected to the in-flight WiFi (“FlyFi”). My MacBook would not. It was a long flight, and since I love a good challenge, I kept at it. I found a dozen articles (using my phone) scattered across the Internet, but it wasn’t until I found one that, among several other suggestions, mentioned removing any DNS server overrides you might have in System Preferences > Network > Advanced > DNS. Bing! A while ago (I can’t remember why now) I had overridden the default settings to use Google’s DNS servers (, Removing them solved the problem.

I’m posting this here to possibly help others with the same problem in the future, and to open a discussion on why this is a problem. Does it apply to other “captive” WiFi networks (the ones with an interstitial log-in page where you may need to acknowledge their terms then click “Done”)? Or is there something unique about FlyFi, or other in-flight WiFi networks?


Hi Jeff, thanks for sharing. As a part time networking guy, I am betting that your guess at the “captive” sign in page is the reason. A good developer would not hardcore an IP address and rely on DNS to resolve to the sign-in page. Using a DNS it can’t get to yet probably kills everything.

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This hit me one year at a hotel I was staying at. My laptop would not connect, while both my iPad and iPhone did. Spoke to tech support for the provider, and they advised remove any custom DNS. Did that, and laptop connected immediately.

Good information to remember.

FWIW, on my Mac laptops, I configure two locations. One, Home, is configured for my home LAN, including a static IP address and DNS pointing to my home servers. The other, Automatic, is the one Apple created - fetching everything via DHCP.

So when I travel, I set it to Automatic and it works. When I get home, I set it back to Home, so I can access my LAN services more easily. (Automatic will connect at home, but without my custom DNS, I need to remember the IP addresses for my other networked devices.)

I would really like it if macOS network configuration could be more like iOS network configuration - where manual configuration changes are tied to a specific network, so switching networks automatically switches settings.


To expand on what David C. said:

There was a time when you could set up multiple locations, I think it was in Network Manager. They removed this feature years ago.

Instead, you can now add multiple “Wi-Fi” interfaces in the Network System Preferences pane. Just click on the “+” button at the bottom and choose Wi-Fi. You’ll probably want to rename it to something more memorable by changing the Service Name field.

Then, when you want to switch between the two setups, you can use the icon of the circle with three dots in it to pull up a menu. There you’ll find Make Service Inactive (or Active).

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Did Apple delete that in Monterey? I still have the location manager in Big Sur:

And Apple is still documenting it.

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It’s still there for me Monterey, although nothing but Automatic appeared initially. Once I unlocked it, all my previous locations showed up and continued to show up after relocked it.

I was referring to the separate Location Manager application that used to exist. You folks are correct that the Network System Prefs panel now has a Location dropdown which does the same thing. I was so used to seeing (and skipping over it) that I failed to notice it there! Thanks for pointing it out.

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