Inflight WiFi: where to find it and for how much
Author: Maggie Scardifield
Photography: Meng Koach
Chances of sitting down to a "blissful" 24-hour long-haul flight, uninterrupted by the all-too-familiar email ping, are getting slimmer. And as for the promise of nothing more than the latest Star Wars, a Weis bar, a kip and the last chapters of that book you've been nursing for the last three months? Even more so. Qantas has announced a partnership with global broadband provider ViaSat; the airline will begin trialling free and fast in-flight WiFi in late 2016 on a single domestic Boeing 737. With a full roll-out across the domestic fleet of A330s and B737s expected from early 2017, it's likely other Australian airlines - namely Virgin and Jetstar - will follow suit, too.
"This service will give Qantas customers download speeds in the air similar to what they're used to on the ground," Qantas's chief executive officer Alan Joyce said in the announcement. "You won't be limited to checking your email or Facebook - it's going to be about watching the football live, streaming your favourite TV show or movie, catching up on the latest YouTube videos, or shopping online."
ViaSat has been available on numerous airlines in the United States for some time, and a number of other airlines across Europe and Asia provide other in-flight WiFi services. We take a look at which airlines are logging on above ground, and at what cost.
UNITED STATES & MEXICO
WHAT'S OFFERED: Aeromexico was the first airline in the world to install 2Ku (the latest technology from GoGo Inc), reported to be the world's fastest on-board internet service. Aeromexico already offers this service on select flights, and will continue to roll out the GoGo 2Ku service on board selected 737-800 aircrafts. Panasonic broadband internet will also be rolled out on board Aeromexico's 787-8 and 787-9 Boeing Dreamliners throughout 2016; passengers can stream movies and television programs using the GoGo Vision service on the Embraer narrow-body aircraft.
PRICE: All on board entertainment and WiFi is complimentary.
WHAT'S OFFERED: Alaska offers the Gogo in-flight internet service on its 737 and Embraer 175 flights over continental US, south-east Alaska and southern Canada. Additionally, there's also coverage between Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska - however there is no WiFi service while travelling over Mexico, or flying over the ocean to or from Hawaii.
PRICE: Pass options include USD$16 for a 24-hour unlimited Wi-Fi pass, USD$36 for six 45-minute sessions (expires 60 days from purchase) or USD$49.95 for a monthly WiFi payment plan with auto-renewal.
WHAT'S OFFERED: American Airlines provides its passengers with WiFi when travelling internationally or on select domestic routes on board the 777-300ER, 787 Dreamliner and select 777-200 aircrafts.
PRICE: WiFi passes are available to purchase for USD$12 (two hours), USD$17 (four hours) or USD$19 (full flight pass). A monthly subscription for frequent flyers is also available at USD$49.95, excluding taxes.
WHAT'S OFFERED: WiFi passes are available to pre-purchase before you fly with Delta, or on board more than 2,400 daily Delta flights within the entire continental US and Alaska.
PRICE: Pass options include USD$16 for a 24-hour unlimited WiFi pass, USD$49.95 for a monthly pass and USD$538.95 for an annual pass.
WHAT'S OFFERED: JetBlue's Fly-Fi service provides free in-flight WiFi to all customers flying on A321 and A320, and 23 per cent of the E190 JetBlue planes. The Fly-Fi program is in partnership with Amazon.
PRICE: Complimentary for standard package (permits email, social media and Amazon video) or for USD$9 per hour, the Fly-Fi+ package allows passengers to transfer large files, access Cloud storage and stream non-Amazon related video.
WHAT'S OFFERED: Southwest's A-List members are given free WiFi on select WiFi hotspot-enabled Southwest Airlines aircraft. Passengers are required to sign in using a Rapid Rewards username or account number and password. There is limited access to high-bandwidth websites including Netflix, HBO Go, and VoIP.
PRICE: Complimentary for A-List members, or USD$8 per day per device for non-members.
WHAT'S OFFERED: Virgin America uses in-flight WiFi from Gogo Air, however as of September 2015, ViaSat's high-speed satellite-based in-flight internet service has been made available on 10 new A320 aircrafts (the same service Qantas will be using). WiFi services are currently unavailable to guests travelling to Hawaii, but are slated to be introduced mid-2016.
WHAT'S OFFERED: WiFi is available on board all of the Aer Lingus A330 aircrafts, but not on the Boeing 757 and 767 serviced flights. The connection speeds are similar to a public WiFi service on land, and will allow uploads of 5 Mbps and a download capacity of 1Mbps.
PRICE: Complimentary to business class passengers, or €7.95 for a one hour pass, and €14.95 for a full-flight pass.
WHAT'S OFFERED: AirBerlin offer Panasonic WiFi on the majority of its AirBerlin aircrafts, flying short- and long-haul.
PRICE: Various time and data packages are available including; €4.90 for 30 minutes (and 20MB of data) or €8.90 for 1 hour (and 50MB data), while the full-flight package for long-haul flights is €18.90 and includes 120 MB of data.
WHAT'S OFFERED: Panasonic WiFi is offered on board one of AirFrance's Boeing 777-300s.
PRICE: WiFi is available at €10.95 per hour or €19.95 for a 24-hour pass.
WHAT'S OFFERED: Full WiFi is offered on board Finnair's new Airbus A350 aircraft.
PRICE: WiFi is free in business class and for Finnair Plus, Gold and Platinum members, and Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members. Economy passengers can purchase full internet access for €5 for one hour, or €15 for the entire flight.
WHAT'S OFFERED: The Lufthansa FlyNet service offers free WiFi on select long-haul flights via wireless local area network (WLAN) hotspots. Passengers are also able to send and receive SMS and MMS messages, and transfer data at cruising altitude via GSM/GPRS. Deutsche Telekom provides the Lufthansa HotSpot that gives you access to the billable internet service.
PRICE: Deutsche Telekom offers three different packages for using the WiFi service: €9 for 1 hour or flights up to 3,500 miles, €14 for 4 hours or flights up to 4,500 miles, and €17 for up to 24-hours or 5,500 miles.
WHAT'S OFFERED: Currently WiFi is available on the Boeing 777 and select A330-343 aircrafts. No announcement has been made as to when the rest of the fleet will be equipped.
PRICE: For one hour USD$9.99, 24 hours USD$14.99.
WHAT'S OFFERED: Free WiFi is available on most Norwegian flights in Europe and on flights between the US and the Caribbean. WiFi is not currently available on international long-haul flights.
WHAT'S OFFERED: Free WiFi is available to select members on board 10 Boeing 737-800 aircrafts that fly within Europe. WiFi services on long-haul flights are currently being rolled out.
PRICE: WiFi is free for EuroBonus Gold and Diamond members and for travellers in SAS Plus and SAS Business. Travellers in SAS Go (economy) can connect for €6-€7 (or for 1000 EuroBonus points) in Scandinavia and Europe, or €15-€19 (3000 EuroBonus points) to the rest of the world.
WHAT'S OFFERED: The Virgin Atlantic in-flight WiFi system allows passengers to wirelessly connect, at or above 10,000 feet, via their phone or tablet. The service is currently available on all 787 aircrafts and will continue to roll out to the rest of the fleet in 2016.
PRICE: Flight passes are available for £14.99
WHAT'S OFFERED: WiFi access is available on Boeing 777-300 ER and Airbus 330-200/300 flights.
PRICE: WiFi is complimentary to all first-class passengers; a time-based system on Boeing 777-300 ER (1 hour USD$11.95, 3 hours USD$16.95, 24-hours USD$21.95); a volume-based system on board Airbus A330-200/300 (3MB for USD$2.49 (mobile only), 10MB for USD$9.95 (laptop and mobile) and 25MB for USD$21.95 (laptop only).
Hong Kong Airlines
WHAT'S OFFERED: WiFi is available on all Airbus A330-200 planes operating from London to Hong Kong. The airline's OnAir network also enables customers to make mobile phone calls and text.
PRICE: Complimentary but subject to bandwidth restrictions.
WHAT'S OFFERED: Singapore's providers are OnAir and Panasonic, and both WiFi services are being made progressively more available on the airline's A380, Boeing 777-300ER and A350 fleets.
PRICE: Depending on the service provider used on your flight, Singapore has twoprice plans. OnAir WiFi is volume-based (USD$6.99 for 15 MB) while Panasonic's WiFi is time-based (USD$11.95 for 1 hour).
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
WHAT'S OFFERED: So far, WiFi is available on all of Emirates's A380 aircrafts and the majority of its Boeing 777 aircrafts, and the airline continues to roll out in-flight WiFi services across its entire fleet.
PRICE:10MB of complimentary data, or 500MB for USD$1 on select Boeing 777s.
WHAT'S OFFERED: WiFi is available in-flight on select Etihad Airways aircrafts and details can be found on the inflight WiFi portal.
PRICE: Internet pricing packages start at USD$5 for 30 minutes.