Emirates now offers free inflight WiFi in business, first class

By David Flynn, June 14 2017
Emirates now offers free inflight WiFi in business, first class

Emirates is shaking up its inflight Internet plans to include "unlimited free WiFi" for business class and first class passengers, although the service will cost more if you're sitting in economy.

The Gulf carrier previously gave all passengers 10MB of free access to its satellite Internet system, with each additional 500MB of data available for just US$1.

While this generous arrangement proved very popular with travellers – Emirates is said to have some 750,000 people connecting every month – the downside is that the available bandwidth is quickly gobbled up so that the connection becomes almost unusable until the bulk of passengers log off to watch a movie, eat or sleep.

This changes as of June 14, 2017, with a spokesperson for Emirates confirming to Australian Business Traveller a revised pricing scheme as follows:

  • economy passengers will now get 20MB of free WiFi to sate their immediate social media needs, although this has to be used without two hours of their connecting
  • business class and first class passengers who are also members of Emirates Skywards frequent flyer scheme will receive unlimited free WiFi by entering their Skywards membership number at the login screen
  • economy passengers will be able to buy an additional 150MB of WiFi for US$9.99 (A$13.50) with a meatier 500MB priced at US$15.99 (A$22)

If you're travelling in Emirates first class and business class cabins but don't belong to Skywards, you'll have to pay the same rates as those in economy – while you can sign up to Skywards on the spot, your membership won't be recognised until your next Emirates flight (your Qantas Frequent Flyer number gets no recognition here).

Given that Skywards is free to join, it makes sense to sign up right away if you have an Emirates flight coming up.


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.


Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 729

marvelous news.


25 Feb 2017

Total posts 6

It's only good if you can get a usable connection speed. On the majority of flights I've had with Emirates, that impossible.

18 Nov 2015

Total posts 118

I agree.  The Wi-Fi is useless.  I flew Sydney to Dubai, then Dubai to London (different planes).  Both flights the Wi-Fi was utterly useless on a laptop or tablet.  Only the most basic email usage on my phone worked (ie not attachments in or out).

05 Jan 2016

Total posts 4

I believe the idea is that instead of 400+ pax having 10mb, plus a significant amount paying $1 for another 500mb (grinding the system to a halt), you have 60+ pax using the connection for free, with a small amount paying the increased fees. 

The result is that less people share the connection. Those using it can then get greater speeds and a more usable connection. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1377

But increasing the price for economy pax for 500Mb from $1 to $16 should help reduce demand

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 May 2017

Total posts 14

So would your Emirates Skywards frequent flyer need to be associated with your business and first ticket?  Some people would have their own airline FF program on the ticket. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Sep 2012

Total posts 236

Good point but I doubt it

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Sep 2015

Total posts 11

The article says " (your Qantas Frequent Flyer number gets no recognition here)".

Qantas - P1 Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2013

Total posts 45

I was wondering the same thing as Nbrugess31. I am flying on an EK flight to DXB, but the flight number has the QF tag and my FF scheme is listed as QF on the booking. While I am a member of Skywards, I think that my booking needs to have the Skywards number linked with it rather than my QF FF number. So, I may miss out of the free internet..

A very smart move by Emirates, rewarding those travellers who are serious customers and pay the higher fares by giving them not only free Internet but a usable service.


04 Apr 2014

Total posts 207

interesting. How, I wonder, will the system will know if you're in economy or business?  Seems to suggest they can link the system to the passenger manifest, else do you simply need to enter a non-economy seat number or some such thing?  I can't imagine they have the ability to physically separate access when an economy passenger can be seated immediately behind someone in business. 

02 Dec 2016

Total posts 31

They don't need to know if you are in Econ or Business, they will use the Skywards login to determine that.

24 Feb 2015

Total posts 25

Correct - it appears that it will use your Skywards number and match it to the booking. I use my QF number on EK so looks like I'll be missing out. There must be a better way?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Dec 2014

Total posts 60

I found out the hard way on a flight last night that you have to be on an Emirates ticket to get the free internet. I was in Business on a QF ticket and when I entered my Skywards number it said it wasn't associated with a ticket on this flight and I should sign in as a guest. So for me this is a bg downgrade from the old $1 for 500 MB. 

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