Inflight WiFi - luxury or necessity?

19 replies


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 14 Sep 2012

Total posts 16

I love to disconnect and have no emails or connectivity, but I equally love jumping online inflight and watching my own entertainment like NetFlix, iTunes movies etc. My recent flights Sydney-Perth on Qantas with free WIFI was awesome on my iPad binging shows (as was most of the flight given the amount of laptops and iPads people were watching I noticed on a walk to the loo). On long international flights I would love it for this reason too but I want it super fast and free, so I'm happy to wait for Qantas to have the best system.


Aer Lingus - Gold Circle Club

Member since 20 Nov 2017

Total posts 5

I recently flew PR from LHR to MEL via MNL, and had free WiFi all the way, and it was great.

The previous few long haul flights I have taken had paid for WiFi that I was not keen on.

It is definitely something that I will consider when I book my next long haul flight.

Most of the the short hail flights that I do are maximum 1.5h, so I am not too bothered about WiFi on those flights, I will read or download some documents to review.


Member since 12 Aug 2017

Total posts 31

The fact that my time in the air can be productive if I need it to be is important for me. I don’t ‘waste a day travelling’. It is fun too.

You don’t have to use it if you want to disconnect but its good to have


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 11 Oct 2014

Total posts 412

@aggie57 - a timely and well thought-out post.

The fact that there are so many discordant views to your post shows just how ubiquitous (and contentious!) the provision of WiFi on aircraft has become. It is also highly interesting to see how this has evolved and the many problems / scenario's there are, in a connected air space.

For those flying domestically in the USA / Canada, WiFi has been available on many carriers over a good number of years. Despite implementations varying from woeful to excellent - domestic WiFi has come to maturity as you rightly suggest with the introduction of satellite vs land-based systems.

In Australia, domestically we are just starting out on that journey with a marginally better domestic infrastructure. Due to our slower growth and the almost universal acceptance of WiFi, we are now starting to enjoy great service. The quandary for airlines in the domestic sphere is: how productive can you be on a 90min / 2 hour flight, with meal service, take-off and landing eating that time away? Whilst streaming video is great to have, is it absolutely necessary on short domestic? Or is the provision of email services all that is justified? Obviously on longhaul domestic of 2.5hrs or more, a full streaming-capable is required. No question, since it is - for many - a business imperative. Same for many leisure flyers.

Much of the controversy rails around cost: cost of service, cost of installation .. and that is normal. QF has gone with a domestic 'free' model (yay!) and Virgin has gone with an acceptable two-tier model. However, in the USA, carriers adopt a myriad of structures. An additional complication in the USA though, is the capability of airlines to provide in-house apps to facilitate streaming and access. UA has struggled with an airline app which has been universally condemned for it's inability to connect, whereas JetBlue, Southwest and DL/AA seem to have their act together.

On international, it is a totally different can of worms, since great WiFi over water requires expensive infrastructure, as has been stated. However, this is a vastly different passenger market - since you have passenger on-board from 4-5 hrs up to anything around 17-18hrs. In-cabin IFE is great for entertainment, but is dependent on the carrier's choice. Not always w hat the passenger wants. So, streaming is necessary.

Due to these extended times, business travellers will be productive on such flights - and cannot always remain isolated on long-hauls. To those who would rather not be connected, you are free to swith off - but don't deny others.

Yes - IMHO, QF is currently at a competitive disadvantage to it's competitors, but it is going for a more technically advanced system .. or so they tell us.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 02 Apr 2017

Total posts 181

I would love it at the speeds to run Netflix or Youtube, flights would go so much quicker if I had access to my preferred entertainment.

For work - I'd much rather not have Wifi. As soon as I'm connected to internet I just get distracted and accomplish nothing. I don't really work on planes much (at least no urgent work, it can always wait), but when I do it's generally very productive time because I can't get caught up doing something else. A hell of a lot of my side projects get accomplished on long flights or when stranded somewhere remote with no cell signal or internet.

Last editedby Dredgy at Feb 20, 2019, 10:26 PM.

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