Cathay Pacific and its regional arm Cathay Dragon will launch inflight Internet on its international Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 jets from the middle of 2018, allowing passengers on almost all international flights to enjoy a high-speed broadband connection above the clouds.
The airline already boasts WiFi on its newest Airbus A350 jets at prices ranging from US$9.95 for one hour through to US$12.95 for a six-hour session and a flat US$19.95 to stay online for the duration of your flight.
However, the speeds are quite modest – during our tests we clocked a download rate of 2.46Mbps.
That will radically change on the Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s, which will use advanced Gogo 2Ku satellite broadband technology to turbocharge connection speeds.
This is the same system being rolled out by Virgin Australia, which is delivering typical download speeds of 15-20Mbps on domestic flights – faster than the average home broadband connection and more than sufficient for streaming Netflix video in HD at 40,000 feet.
So how much will it cost? A spokesperson for Cathay Pacific tells Australian Business Traveller that pricing for the high-speed service "is still under review with details to be announced early next year" – indicating that the Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 WiFi pricing might not be pegged to those of the A350.
Cathay is also "working on enhancing the existing A350 connectivity solution" (in plain English, they want to to go faster).
Cathay Pacific expects the Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 upgrades to be completed in 2020, by which time all of its flights between Australia and Hong Kong will offer inflight WiFi.