Written on 19th September 2016

Airline technology: On board connectivity

For some time, technology has been at the forefront of aviation and airline services.

The highly competitive market drives airlines to continuously re-evaluate their offering to keep travellers satisfied, entertained and differentiate their product from the competition.

The business traveller community has been a driving force behind the offering of GSM and Wi-Fi on board. The internet connection being a lifeline to remain in constant contact with the ongoing professional obligations if and when required.

Earlier this year, Routehappy.com conducted a survey listing the best performing Wi-Fi services offered by airlines around the globe.

TAG’s key findings are listed below.

1. The two American carriers Delta (1) and America Airlines (3) came respectively first and third.

Both systems are powered by Gogo and will come at an additional cost to the airfare.

  • Passes can be purchased in advance and monthly plans for single or multi-airlines are also available for regular travellers.
  • Airlines using Wi-Fi powered by Gogo are: Virgin America, Alaska Airlines, Delta airlines and American Airlines. Please find more information about Gogo here.

2. United Airlines (2) hold second place with all mainline aircrafts and most two cabin regional aircrafts offering Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi service is offered at an additional cost and pricing will vary.

Further information about United’s Wi-Fi offering is available here.

3. Emirates (4): offer 10MB for free on all A380 and select Boeing 777 aircrafts. For $1.00 an additional 500MB can be purchased to stay connected for the entire duration of the flight. In addition, should your mobile provider have a roaming agreement with OnAir or Aeromobile, you will be able to use your telephone on nearly all Emirates A380 flights as if you were on the ground. Further information is available here.

4. Etihad (6): You can purchase wireless internet access using your credit card, redeem a voucher or connect using your existing account with selected Wi-Fi roaming partners. Internet pricing packages start at $5 for 30 minutes and details can be found on the inflight Wi-Fi portal. Please note this is only available on a selection of aircrafts. Please speak to your dedicated Travel Executive to check whether your flight offers on-board wi-fi.

Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, although not in the top ten, are working very hard to close the gap.

5. Virgin Atlantic now offers Wi-Fi (at or above 10 000 ft.) on all of the Boeing 787 Dreamliners. All that is required to benefit from this service is to purchase a flight pass, available for £14.99 which will give travellers up to 150MB of data. The service will cover the duration of the flight, for any device. Virgin Atlantic is planning to roll out this service to the rest of its fleet during the course of this year. Further information is available here

6. British Airways recently announced that it plans to introduce a Wi-Fi service to its travellers in 2017. It remains unclear whether a basic service will be introduced on a complimentary basis or if this will come at an additional cost. It appears the service will be powered by Gogo alike some of their American competitors. It is likely the service will be rolled out to 118 aircrafts in its initial phase.

In the APAC region things have not been moving as quickly as in the United States, but 2017 seems to be the year for Australian airlines to introduce this service to their customers.

7. Qantas will hopefully follow the Wi-Fi trend very soon. Qantas is believed to have the Wi-Fi project on the cards for 2017. At this stage Qantas does not offer any inflight Wi-Fi connectivity. It does however offer a text messaging service, as well as inflight telephone calls on all A380, B747-400 and A330-300 aircrafts. This service is offered from the comfort of your seat via the inflight telecommunication device. Please note a cost will apply, for further information please click here

8. From mid-2017, Virgin Australia plans to begin fitting out its Boeing 737-800, Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft with equipment that enables inflight Wi-Fi. Virgin Australia Group Chief Executive John Borghetti recently made the announcement at the launch of the airline’s new Long Haul International Business Class cabin in Los Angeles.


Should you want to inquire about any of these airline services, please contact your dedicated Travel Executive.

For any further information, please contact the TAG Corporate team here.


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