Australians jetting about the country on domestic Qantas and Virgin Australia flights are eager for inflight Internet, but they’re unwilling to pay too much for it – and most business class passengers expect it should be free.
That’s the take-out from our online survey which polled 1,200 readers on their desire and budget for sky-high WiFi.
It shows there is clearly an appetite for inflight Internet on flights within Australia, especially after travellers have experienced it on international airlines and domestic US flights.
But hitting the right price-point will be paramount, in addition to setting passenger expectations as to how fast the connection will be.
On the relatively short flight between the east coast capital cities – such as Sydney-Melbourne, which is the world’s fourth busiest domestic air corridor– some 40.9% of travellers would be prepared to pay no more than $5 to stay connected above the clouds, while one in three (33.4%) said they wouldn’t use the Internet on such a short flight.
19.5% would be prepared to pay $10, with just over 6% willing to spend $15-$20 for the privilege.
The Internet has much more appeal for travellers wishing to work on longer east-west flights of four to six hours, with almost two-thirds of passengers (61.7%) willing to pay between $5 and $10, while 17.6% felt the service would be worth $15 to $20.
Regardless of the length of the journey, more than three out of four travellers (77.6%) believe that inflight Internet should be included in the cost of a business class ticket.
A further 13.8% feel this should be restricted to a promotional code which provides a limited amount of date or time online, while 8.6% say that business class passengers should have to pay for the Internet "like everybody else."
Several international airlines flying into Australia already offer satellite Internet services – among them Qantas partner Emirates, and Virgin Australia partners Etihad and Singapore Airlines – while Cathay Pacific will begin trialling inflight Internet from next year on its new Airbus A350 fleet.
Earlier this month, Qatar Airways – which already flies to Melbourne and Perth, and will spread its wings to Sydney and Adelaide in 2016 – began allowing all passengers 15 minutes of free Internet aloft, with a maximum price tag of US$20 to stay online for the entire duration of their flight.
2016 could see inflight Internet edge closer for domestic Qantas and Virgin Australia flights.
The NBN will bring its ‘Sky Muster’ satellite online from the middle of next year, with the potential to deliver medium-speed connections to Aussie aircraft, while Inmarsat's advanced Ka-band Global Express network can serve up what's closer to a broadband experience at 40,000 feet.
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