Air France has flicked the switch on its new high-speed Internet service, joining the 'broadband above the clouds club' as travellers look for faster inflight WiFi.
Two of the SkyTeam member's A330 and Boeing 777 jets are already running Gogo’s 2Ku satellite tech, which is capable of delivering significantly faster signals that the airline's current Boeing 787, with 28 more aircraft to be upgraded before the year is out.
Despite the lure of high-speed surfing, the Air France Connect service starts as a freebie for messaging apps such as Whatsapp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger and Apple's iMessage.
Those speeds are quite modest, as you'd expect, and the free service is limited to text messages so don't expect to be able to swap photos or documents.
If it’s Web access and emails you’re after, the faster Surf pass costs €3 for a short flight and €5 for a medium-range flight; on a long-distance international flight, the Surf pass is €8 for one hour and €18 for the entire journey.
The highest streaming-capable speeds can be unlocked with a €30 Stream pass. This is tailored for travellers who want to download large files or binge on Netflix, although the Stream pass is available only on the airline’s longest-range international flights such as Paris-Singapore.
Of the thirty Air France jets planned to be upgraded by the end of 2018, twenty two will be seen on long-distance routes while the remaining eight will dart to destinations around Europe. The remainder of the Air France fleet will be outfitted by the end of 2020.
Air France's Airbus A320-series fleet (from the A318 to the A321), which covers short-to-medium range European routes, is also getting high-speed inflight WiFi from the end of this year, with a KU-band satellite system able to deliver 500Mbs per aircraft.