Cathay Pacific to offer inflight Internet at $10/hour, $20/flight

By David Flynn, May 30 2016
Cathay Pacific to offer inflight Internet at $10/hour, $20/flight

Cathay Pacific will offer live TV channels and inflight Internet across its Airbus A350 fleet, which begins flying this week.

Travellers will be able to watch BBC CNN and Euronews for free, with prices for Internet access ranging from US$10 to US$20 depending on how long you're connected, without any data limits.

For regional flights under six hours, unlimited Internet will cost US$13, and US$20 for flights over six hours. To hop online for a single hour on any A350 flight will cost US$10.

Vouchers will also be issued to selected travellers – a group expected to include top-tier members of the Marco Polo Club frequent flyer scheme - who'll have the option to redeem their voucher rather than enter their credit card details on the sign-up portal.

The pricing will prove compelling for confirmed long-haul A350 routes such as London's Gatwick Airport and Auckland, along with other likely starters such as Barcelona, Dusseldorf, Milan and Zurich.

Those international routes will be preceded by regional familiarisation runs which will see the A350 shuttle from Hong Kong to Bangkok, Manila, Singapore and Taipei.

This will be the first time that inflight Internet is offered on Cathay Pacific flights, with the Ku-band satellite kit being fitted across the entire A350 fleet.

Cathay Pacific plans to take delivery of twelve A350-900 jets across 2016, with ten more  in 2017. Those will be followed by 26 of the larger and longer-range A350-1000s from 2018.

The A350s will feature an updated business class along with all-new premium economy and economy seats, although Cathay Pacific has decided against installing first class on the Airbus A350-1000, opting instead for a larger premium cabin featuring its new international business class seats.

Read: Inside Cathay Pacific's all-new Airbus A350

More Airbus A350 stories on Australian Business Traveller

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PREVIOUS | Cathay Pacific will launch trials of inflight Internet on its Airbus A350 fleet from early next year, but remains unconvinced on the technology and says that many of its top-tier frequent flyers value being disconnected during their flight.

"We've been looking at it for a number of years" admits Toby Smith, Cathay's General Manager of Product, "but I'm not yet reassured by the technology."

"We look at other airlines and we hear their passenger experiences, and there's a high number of drop-outs, it's slow and some airlines charge a lot of money for it, so we want to let the technology become a bit more mature."

"There hasn't been a big push from our passengers" Smith adds. "In fact a lot of what I hear from our Marco Polo members is ‘Please don't do it, it's the only place in the wold where I’m free from the Internet'."

However, speaking at a Sydney press briefing today, Smith revealed that the airline would test the latest satellite Internet technology on its new Airbus A350s which will take to the sky in CX stripe from February next year.

"We're going to be doing some technology trials and pricing model trials on the A350, which will come with connectivity."

One problem which no amount of tech tweakery can fix will be the Chinese government's refusal to allow Internet connectivity in its airspace, which Smith describes as "one of the biggest hurdles for us."

"Clearly that doesn't stop us from switching it on between Sydney and Hong Kong, for example, but a vast portion of our flights spend flying time in Chinese airspace so you don't have a consistent user experience."

Also read: Cathay Pacific's new business class seat to launch February 2016

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


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.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 698

Having utilised EK's in-flight internet the other week, which indeed was plagued with drop outs and slow speed (but at a $1 I can't complain), I can agree that putting quality into this offering is important. 

I do appreciate the offline time but I can manage that myself. Sometimes you need connectivity because important things are happening while you are in the air.

04 Aug 2014

Total posts 35

I've tried the in-flight internet on Jal few weeks ago and it was brilliant. Fast speed with staple connection. It's really a useful tool to kill time on board. 

21 Apr 2016

Total posts 21

Can also vouch for JAL's in-flight internet on SYD-NRT, HND-ITM and HND-OKA with fantastic speed and few drop outs each time. Upgrading to F on JAL domestic routes for ~$100 includes WiFi access too.

A little annoying that they can't turn the WiFi service on until leaving Australian airspace though.

04 Dec 2013

Total posts 154

Nice to be able to keep up with emails sometimes, but I'm guessing a lot of people want it to look at youtube videos of cats - hardly seems worth the cost, weight and fuel...

23 Mar 2015

Total posts 4

I tried it on all 4 of my Emirates flights last month just see if it worked and could never get on. Only once did it bring up my webmail front page - for like 30 secs - but couldn't do anything with it. When flying, I enjoy the fact that I can't be contacted.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Nov 2013

Total posts 18

Not a priority speaking just for myself. I enjoy not having to check emails. There is nothing that cant wait until I land


03 Mar 2015

Total posts 15

I used it on a few flights while QANTAS were trialling it and loved having the Internet available.  Entertained myself doing what I wanted to do not what I could find in the in flight entertainment. 

Price would be an issue as QANTAS were charging $50 for 80 MB (but gave business customers free vouchers).  Needs to be cost effective for the customer.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1377

It's a trade-off.. Get the pricing wrong or not limit the volume, and everyone uses it and speed suffers 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Mar 2015

Total posts 13


why the hell does anyone need the internet on a flight? surely one can organise their life for a few hours without it. 

i can just picture it - some bozo decides to tune in on skipe and start talking about the great sex they had last night in bangkok or impress everyone that the business meeting he had or is going to will be a million dollar deal then he had tea with warren buffet after the deal and as is the case with talking via a mobile device the decibel level rises to that of a crashing jet or a screaming kid and you just happen to be sitting next to them all the while trying to find an empty seat on an otherwise full flight

19 Sep 2015

Total posts 21

An 8-hour flight is 8 hours of lost time. Might as well get something done. Passengers are also strongly advised against using services like Skype, Youtube, and the like in order to keep the speed up.

You don't know what you need until you need it!

21 Apr 2016

Total posts 21

Internet can make your time in the air much more productive if you wish to use it that way.

Skype and other VoIP services are usually blocked, or if not the latency is so bad they're virtually unusable.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2437

Another fan of inflight Internet here as I can keep up with the news and file stories from the air, although many other travellers will have different reasons to use the connection, or not to use it, as they see fit. :)

18 Nov 2015

Total posts 118

How about on a long haul flight eg Sydney to London?  I flew this last year with a couple of hours in Dubai - rather than enjoying the EK F lounge, I spent an hour or so dealing with urgent emails (I run my own business).  I would prefer to be able to do that in the air during the 12 hour flight.  I mean seriously, there's only so much TV and food you can pass the time with while in the air.

23 Feb 2016

Total posts 33

$5 an hour and it's a deal.

$10 seem a bit too much for internet with high latency, dropouts and slow speeds.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2015

Total posts 121

I reckon once they sort out the speed and reliability issues in a few years, we'll see in-flight WiFi become the new norm of entertainment on board. I believe that this is a step in the right direction. The airline companies started forcing the service providers to up their game and I think in the long run this will benefit the passengers. 

17 Jun 2011

Total posts 64

There are many reasons why someone would need online access while in the air and I am all for as many airlines as possible fitting out their aircraft to give people this option.

I just used Air Canada's in-flight wifi service on my recent flight from Havana, Cuba to Toronto and it was great. I had little to no online access for a week while in Cuba so it was great to be able to communicate again with the outside world - I had iMessage, facebook + messenger and flickr all going smoothly without incident and was able to get in touch with everyone and post several photos leaving me free to transit and get a bite to eat once I arrived in YYZ.

20 Jun 2014

Total posts 59

I actually think $20 for a long haul is about right. I wouldn't use it just for the hell of it, but if I actually have something important to do, it's worth $20 to get it done. Hopefully if everyone thinks this way, there won't be that many people using it simultaenously and bandwidth will be good. Bit disappointed if they don't make it free for business class though, if you are spedning $6k on a seat, you expect a few freebies.

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