Reviews

Review: Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 inflight Internet

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, June 17 2016
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 inflight Internet
Notes
The Good
  • Reasonable download speeds
  • Easy-to-use interface
The Unexpected
  • Free access to destination guides

Introduction

Cathay Pacific's new Airbus A350 doesn't just offer new seats in business class, premium economy and economy, it also provides travellers with access to inflight Internet as they soar above the clouds.

Priced from US$9.95, it's an affordable way to keep in touch on social media, with your loved ones back home and of course the office, which Australian Business Traveller put to the test on a recent flight aboard Cathay Pacific's first Airbus A350.

Content

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 inflight Internet: plans

Cathay's access plans are all fortunately based on time rather than data consumption, and are the same price whether connecting via a smartphone, tablet or laptop:

  • One hour: US$9.95 (A$13.40)
  • Duration of flight (up to six hours): US$12.95 (A$17.45)
  • Duration of flight (over six hours): US$19.95 (A$26.85)

The 'duration of flight' plan you'll see naturally depends on the length of your route – we took a short two-hour hop from Hong Kong to Manila and had the US$12.95 option appear on our smartphone...

... although the desktop version of the WiFi portal initially offered the higher US$19.95 price in error...

... before realising its mistake and correcting to the lower price on the payment screen:

Cathay Pacific had earlier advised that complimentary vouchers would also be issued to selected travellers, such as top Marco Polo Club members, but the crew on our flight had no voucher codes to provide.

Cathay Pacific inflight Internet: getting online

As with most aircraft, the inflight WiFi service clicks on above 10,000 feet, so trying to connect while on the ground won't prove a success:

Once airborne, however, the WiFi portal comes in a variety of languages such as English plus Asian and European tongues including German – appropriate when one of the A350's first long-haul routes is between Hong Kong and Dusseldorf, Germany, from later this year.

Then it's as simple as choosing your price, creating a CX WiFi account or logging in to one you've created earlier and entering your credit card details.

All Australian-issued credit cards are accepted including MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Diners Club, with Discover and JCB also welcome for other international users:

Then you're online, and if you only needed the hour-long plan and keep the same browser page open, it's a helpful reminder of how much time you have remaining:

A little tip: All plans can be used on more than one device, but only one device at a time.

That means you can sign out on one device such as your smartphone, and sign-in on another like your tablet or laptop, to continue browsing at no extra charge:

Just note that the specific expiry time shown is based on your gadget's local clock, so on our smartphone which was set to Hong Kong time the expiry appeared as 11:17am, while on our laptop which retained Sydney time, was displayed as 13:17 or 1:17pm.

The countdown clock remains accurate in either case, however, and despite what the airline had announced previously, we're told the inflight WiFi service now works over China which will come in handy as the A350's European flights begin.

Cathay Pacific A350 inflight Internet: surfing speeds

We always expect relatively slow speeds from inflight Internet services, but were pleasantly surprised to see downloads clocking in at 2.46Mb/s.

That's certainly not fast, but it's most usable and works just fine when browsing the Web from your seat in the sky. Uploads were predictably slower at 0.24Mb/s, while ping speeds were measured at 1,118ms.

In other words, the Internet worked just fine without being as fast as you'd get on the ground, with tasks like sending email attachments and pictures slower than general surfing.

As an added bonus, you can also use the inflight Internet system to access the route map and the progress of your flight, whether you've purchased a plan or not...

... can see how long you have both until landing and until the Internet system becomes unavailable, and can even browse sightseeing suggestions and food and beverage top picks for your destination:

All in all, Cathay Pacific's Airbus A350 inflight Internet service is a solid product at a reasonable price for both business and leisure travellers jetting about on the airline's newest aircraft.

Also read: Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 business class review

Chris Chamberlin travelled as a guest of Cathay Pacific.

ChrisCh
ChrisCh

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

DBPZ

DBPZ

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

26 Feb 2016

Total posts 101

2.46Mbps (or 310KBps) is extremely fast comparing to SQ's satellite Internet, which is not only much slower but also more expensive, and the data is metered.

WilliamSudarpo

WilliamSudarpo

14 Jul 2016

Total posts 7

CX WI-FI is great, but CX selects ViaSat for the next wifi on A350-1000, some 777-300ER and 777X as panasonic only used for some A330 and all 25 A350-900 (3 more has order in May 2016).

WilliamSudarpo

WilliamSudarpo

14 Jul 2016

Total posts 7

Notes: some A330-300 or 777-300ER will be installed with Wifi likely by next year (reported by the airlines) and the rest of older A330-300 will be transferred to Cathay Dragon or retired from the airline group.

sharrkey

sharrkey

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

06 Feb 2014

Total posts 70

Can't beat Emirates in this regard!

Looking

Looking

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 118

The screen shots state an "Exclusive Offer" was there and if so what was it?


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 inflight Internet