Emirates rolls out FREE inflight Internet on Airbus A380, Boeing 777 fleet

By Chris Chamberlin, November 5 2014
Emirates rolls out FREE inflight Internet on Airbus A380, Boeing 777 fleet

Wireless inflight Internet is now free across the bulk of Emirates’ Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 fleet, with each passenger getting 10MB of data at no cost.

Want more data? Just $1 – yes, a single dollar – will land you a solid 600MB.

And Emirates isn't stopping there, with the airline promising “to eventually enable passengers to have unlimited free access to Wi-Fi” at 35,000 feet.

“We’ve always viewed Wi-Fi as a service and a value-added part of Emirates’ overall product, rather than a revenue stream,” said Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates.

“Ultimately, we believe that on-board Wi-Fi will become a free service, and a standard that customers will expect on a full service airline, just like on-board refreshments and personal inflight entertainment.”

Currently, all 53 A380s in Emirates’ fleet are kitted up as giant Internet hotspots, while 28 of EK’s 142-strong Boeing 777 aircraft also have on-board connectivity.

The airline is also spending US$20 million each year to retrofit its entire fleet with Wi-Fi – including onto other aircraft types such as the Airbus A330.

Emirates' on-board Wi-Fi: 500,000 users and growing

Emirates first launched inflight Internet access in 2011, with over half a million passengers using the facility throughout the past three years.

The airline expects the demand for sky-high surfing to increase “exponentially”, although notes that the initial free 10MB allowance isn’t available on a small number of its Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft.

$1 to stay connected in the air? Yes please!
$1 to stay connected in the air? Yes please!

Last month roughly 3,500 passengers used Emirates’ on-board Wi-Fi service each day, with the average user downloading 28MB between take-off and touchdown.

Emirates' record? 8GB transmitted in a single flight

The highest number of Wi-Fi users recorded on a single Emirates flight was 153 passengers on an Airbus A380, while the greatest internet volume recorded on a single EK flight was nearly 8GB from just 26 users aboard a Boeing 777.

According to the airline, the sites its passengers most frequently access in the sky include Google, Facebook, and chat services Skype, WhatsApp and BlackBerry Messenger, with 10MB of data more than enough for the obligatory social media check-in.

Sir Tim Clark added: “If we can offer good quality Wi-Fi connections for everyone on-board at no charge tomorrow, we will do it.”

All of Emirates' flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide to Dubai are operated by Airbus A380s or Boeing 777s, as are its trans-Tasman flights and services from Australia's east coast to Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.

More on inflight Internet:

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Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 May 2014

Total posts 3

Qantas sit up, look, listen, and LEARN from Emirates.

No need to gouge loyal customers to make money

Offer what they want as a full service airline, and they will keep coming back

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1254

So EK makes all this money by just providing good service? It has nothing to do with being geographical blessed, economically blessed (taxation / access to cheap funds)and politically blessed. 

Good on EK for doing this.

07 Aug 2012

Total posts 197

EY is also "blessed" in those ways yet seems to struggle to make the same kind of money EK does (or any money at all).

I think this is a fantastic move by EK, and while it is nice to disconnect for a while, on a long 14 hour flight wifi would help to pass the time when you're sick of watching TV.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1254

EY is blessed with those things except for 3 things: dubai has more pulling power as a O&D and stopover destination,  Emirates has a larger scale and Emirates has been around much longer / has better known brand (which may be the reason for its scale). 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jun 2014

Total posts 167

This is yet another step in the right direction for Emirates. Keep up the good work!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2013

Total posts 209

I'm all for wireless internet on flights provided it can't be used for any voice call or video chat apps (I'd also like to see the in-seat phones removed); the last thing we need on aircraft are noisy neighbours chit chatting endlessly! The only conversations I can just about tolerate overhearing are those between the crew and fellow pax when ordering/serving meals and drinks.


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 586

Planes have had satellite phones for the best part of 15-20 years now, and I have never (in over a million km of flying during that period) been stuck on a plane with someone near me loudly chatting on the phone. The closest I've come (and actually the only time I've ever heard a phone in use) was a bloke calling his wife to tell her about a delay, and he kept it short/quiet. 

There's a reason why the airlines have stopped fitting phone calling facilities on newer planes.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2013

Total posts 209

Wow you've been very fortunate! I seem to have Mr "First Time In Business/First Class So Boasting To All My Mates" Passenger on every fourth or fifth flight!

So will Qantas passengers get into a hissy fit, a la Chauffeur Drive style, now that Qantas is not offering free on board wifi?

04 Nov 2012

Total posts 219

Qantas are too busy making ridiculous changes to think of Wi Fi.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2223

Of course, it happens for absolutely everything a competing airline does. (And when QF does something good, either the haters try to tell us why it still sucks. Such is the emotive power of one's distant uncle allegedly being denied a sixth beer on a flight to London in 1997 (or equivalent sob story).)

Anyway, it looks like the first comment has already started the Qantas Passenger Hissy Fit (QPHF).

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1254

Whilst this is an inevitable leap forward... I personally enjoy being disconnected from the world for a period of time. So it ain't a selling point for me, but I can appreciate it us for 98% of the population. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2223

It ain't a selling point for me either. I rely on being disconnected to sleep!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1213

Wow. Respect.

Speaking of gouging passengers for Wifi SQ should sit up and take notes.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

Other than using their A380s, I still refuse to fly EK until they get rid of their ridiculous 3x4x3 economy configuration.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

06 Apr 2012

Total posts 95

Travelled back to BNE on the Emirates a380 last night.  I was quite amazed when they mentioned the US$1 for 600mb data bundle during the cabin announcement. If you approach the 600mb limit you have an opinion to pay another dollar to get another 600mb.  I used it to send/receive email, check some web sites, upload documents to the cloud (pardon the pun) and run a few Skype text chats during the flight.  Top marks to Emirates for making inflight internet affordable. A lot of business travellers will welcome this facility.


30 May 2011

Total posts 38

this news is great because it will make airlines consider their offerings with Emirates new competitive advantage in their product. Competition is good for the traveller! =)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

Super cheap or free wi-fi on board is a bonus (although I agree with others that switching off for a while is - for me - enjoyable), but not one that would cause me to preference an airline over another alone (or even drop one, because of its absence). Free or super-cheap wifi would means a lot of passengers would use it, so it may have the adverse effect of congestion of bandwidth for the people who would have paid for it when it was more expensive (those forced to keep working while flying, rather than people updating Instagram and Facebook during their flight). 

09 Sep 2014

Total posts 55

This is going to make other airlines' onboard wifi look rubbish and pricey.

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