For Australians, 2018 will be the year of sky-high WiFi

By David Flynn, January 15 2018
For Australians, 2018 will be the year of sky-high WiFi

Like it or not, 2018 is going to be the year that inflight Internet takes off, with Qantas and Virgin Australia both ramping up their rollout of WiFi on domestic and even international flights.

Qantas already has almost a quarter of its 80-strong domestic Boeing 737 fleet fitted with the satellite Internet system, and in the next few months will begin upgrading its domestic Airbus A330s which dominate east-west routes as well as counting some Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane 'triangle' runs on their roster.

By mid-year, stepping onto most domestic Qantas flights will pretty much become a coin-toss as to whether or not you've got fast free Internet at your fingertips.

And with all of Qantas' local Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 jets to be kitted out with Qantas WiFi by year's end, it'll soon become a given that you can stay connected above the clouds.

AusBT review: Qantas WiFi inflight Internet

Virgin Australia expects most of its Boeing 737s to be sporting that tell-tale WiFi hump by Christmas, with the stragglers getting wired up – or should that be unwired? – in January 2019.

AusBT review: Virgin Australia WiFi inflight Internet

However, Virgin doesn’t plan to start its own Airbus A330 overhaul until late 2018, with the upgrade for the six jets stretching out to 2020 – a timetable which will see transcontinental business travellers favouring Qantas if they want to hop online during that 4-5 hour trek.

Virgin is also set to start charging passengers an as-yet-undisclosed fee for a high-speed WiFi connection, although the slower service will remain free.

Read more: Virgin Australia delays launch of paid WiFi until February 2018

High flyers headed to New Zealand, Los Angeles and Hong Kong with Virgin Australia will also have the Internet on tap, although Qantas isn’t expected to add WiFi to its international flights until 2019 at the earliest, with a Qantas spokesperson telling Australian Business Traveller “we are focusing on the domestic WiFi roll out right now."

Two of Virgin’s five Boeing 777-300ER jets already offer Internet on flights between Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Los Angeles, with the service running in a free ‘public trial’ mode.

All five aircraft upgraded by May 2018, by which time the airline will begin charging for international WiFi – once again, at prices and date or time limits which are yet to be revealed.

WiFi will also be available on Virgin's Boeing 737 flights to and from New Zealand, along with Fiji and Bali, in the coming months, with plans for the airline's entire international fleet – including the Airbus A330s running between Melbourne and Hong Kong – to be equipped with WiFi "before the end of September 2018."


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

04 Nov 2012

Total posts 220

Can't wait to hear all that Wi Fi noise coming out of devices.

01 Jan 1970

Total posts 0

The last bastion of peace and quiet (and excuses) will be gone ...


24 Apr 2017

Total posts 77

An airplane is the last place that is either peaceful or quiet.

You want peace & quiet, turn off your phone and go to the beach or the park, even the shopping mall will be quieter than a plane!

15 Jan 2018

Total posts 1

Agree! A plane is no escape from the noises of general public, if you want quiet then use earplugs or noise cancelling earphones.

15 Jan 2018

Total posts 1

High Speed Wi-Fi ~ correct me on this but isnt WiFi written like this and not that ????? as shown on the side of a Qantas plane.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 212

I think you'll find that it is officially wi-fi but as with lots of things some people and organisations use wifi. Don't think it matters as people are going to understand either way.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Oct 2013

Total posts 5

Scored a QF 737 with wifi from SYD-OOl, streamed live video and found the speed was great, very impressed with it , those that say the live video were amazed it was so clear

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 11

Lucky to get wifi on QF843 from Darwin to Sydney. (As I type this !). There's a wifi promo, played after the safety briefing & I thought their video was playing another safety demo by accident !

Worked fine, once take off had finished and we started to stop turning and then climb. Log on was via seat number and surname.

Speed was adequate for what's app, facebook and similar. My work emails downloaded as well, maybe quicker than at home sometimes. A couple of dropouts but to be expected. Logging back on 10mins later worked fine. No time limit or "data limit" was great. I used emirates free wifi a couple years ago and hit the data limit after just one Facebook update!

In summary, it felt weird, especially After be offline in a plane all these years. Being able to connect and send those last minute work emails and texts was actually great - seeing as I got the airport just as boarding commenced !

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