Your guide to Cathay Pacific inflight WiFi

Cathay Pacific's inflight WiFi keeps you connected above the clouds: here's what the business traveller needs to know.

By Staff Writers, May 16 2024
Your guide to Cathay Pacific inflight WiFi

Inflight WiFi is increasingly an expectation on most flights, and beyond that, there’s an additional expectation that it should be free for the highest-paying passengers – those in first class and business class – with bonus points if an airline’s top frequent flyers also get complimentary WiFi.

That’s certainly the direction Cathay Pacific is taking.

Free WiFi on Cathay Pacific

High flyers in Cathay Pacific’s 777 first class already enjoy free WiFi, and from the middle of this year that perk will be extended to Cathay business class – including of course the new flagship 777 Aria Suites.

Also on the free list will be card-carrying Cathay Diamond members (however, as far as we know, this benefit will not extend to Oneworld Emerald members).

It’s not yet known if your Cathay Diamond number must be associated with your booking, or if you could list another airline’s frequent flyer account on your booking but still use your Cathay Diamond number to log into the WiFi network and jump online for free.

So while it's wonderful to be able to 'switch off' during a flight, business travellers will appreciate the ability to go online and tackle last-minute work such as proposals and presentations.

You can switch between smartphones, tablets and laptops, but only one device can be used at a time.
You can switch between smartphones, tablets and laptops, but only one device can be used at a time.

How much does Cathay Pacific WiFi cost?

You’ll find WiFi available on board all of Cathay’s Airbus A350 and A321neo jets, and on most of the Boeing 777-300ER and A330 fleet.

At the time of writing, Cathay Pacific’s WiFi pricing has three tiers, based on how long you are connected:

  • US$10 for one hour
  • US$13 for up to six hours
  • US$20 for over six hours, through to the entire flight

On flights of six hours or less there’s also a US$4 Message Pass which lets you send and receive text messages (but no photos) through the likes of Apple and Google Messages, WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger.

You can switch between smartphones, tablets and laptops, but only one device can be used at a time.
You can switch between smartphones, tablets and laptops, but only one device can be used at a time.

Note that while the six-hour and entire-flight plans can be paused – while you enjoy your meal or even watch a video – the one-hour plan can’t be paused, so choose your timing carefully and make full use of that hour.

In addition, it’s not possible to upgrade from the hour-long option to a six-hour or full-flight plan if it turns out you want or need to stay online longer.

Once those 60 minutes are up, your only option for staying connected is to pay for a new plan at full price – and even if that's only paying for one extra hour, you’ll end up having paid the same US$20 as for a whole flight pass yet had only two hours of connectivity.

All things considered, then, the US$13 six-hour and US$20 entire-flight plans offer the best value.

You can switch between devices – for example, signing up on your laptop, but later in the flight using your smartphone – although you have to log out from one device before logging in on another.

Vodafone roaming on Cathay Pacific flights

If you have a Vodafone mobile plan, you can also take advantage of Vodafone’s $5/day inflight mobile roaming on Cathay Pacific flights.

(Cathay is one of around 20 airlines which allow Vodafone inflight mobile roaming: others include Emirates, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines.)

This works along the same lines as Vodafone’s $5/day international roaming, and delivers “3G-like speeds” via satellite – except it uses your phone’s mobile data rather than WiFi, with AeroMobile selected as your mobile network.

And if you activate Vodafone’s $5 airline roaming during your flight and within 24 hours of landing in a country covered by $5 global roaming – such as on a Cathay Pacific flight from Australia to Hong Kong – this is counted as the same $5/day charge, rather than seeing you slugged twice, once for $5 in the air and again for $5 when you land.

How fast is Cathay Pacific WiFi?

The speed of your Cathay Pacific WiFi connection depends on which aircraft you’re flying on, because some aircraft use different satellite technology.

The Airbus A350s generally offer WiFi speeds of around 3Mb, which is sufficient for basic tasks like email and Web browsing.

The Boeing 777s use an ever faster satellite system which reportedly delivers up to 10Mbps.

All the same, this is nothing like using the Internet at home or the office – forget about loading up and switching between dozens of Web browser windows or apps, as inflight Internet tends to stutter and come along in bursts.

Be patient: inflight WiFi is nothing like what you're used to at home.
Be patient: inflight WiFi is nothing like what you're used to at home.

How do I connect to Cathay Pacific WiFi?

You can connect directly to the Cathay Pacific inflight WiFi network from any device – a smartphone, tablet, laptop, ebook reader, even a smartwatch – in exactly the same way that you’d connect to a WiFi hotspot at work, home, a hotel or your local cafe.

Browse for local WiFi networks, select the Cathay Pacific network and your browser should pop open to help you connect (if it doesn’t, just type in www.wifi.cathaypacific.com).

Select your WiFi plan, create an account if it’s your first time using the service (or log in if you’re a returning customer), enter your credit card details, and you’re sorted. Accepted payment methods include Visa, Mastercard, American Express, UnionPay, Paypal and Alipay.

Note that WiFi won’t be available during the take-off and landing phases of the flight, nor when flying over the northern polar region - common on flights to North America.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Aug 2012

Total posts 74

This article does not mention if the service is free for business class customers. However from past experience I think that it isnt. Is that the case?....... I think that it should be free in J

QF

02 Sep 2013

Total posts 7

Cathay WiFi is the worst I have experienced. Dropouts and slow speeds are common. Cathay uses Panasonic which is much worse than airlines using gogo inflight.

21 Apr 2017

Total posts 51

My best guess is that you’ll be able to login using your Cathay membership number as per the current approach so hopefully should be fine for DMs travelling on a booking under another FF program. I’ve found it good on the 777 services in particular to and from Aus. A bit patchier on the 350s. 

11 Mar 2019

Total posts 5

Paid for the 60min service last week in J CLASS, Syd to HKG. Only worked for 10mins. Useless for the other 50mins. 

NOT RECOMMENDED


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