Review: Emirates inflight WiFi

Here’s everything you need to know about staying connected in the clouds on your next Emirates flight.

By Staff Writers, March 5 2024
Review: Emirates inflight WiFi

It’s easy to leave the world behind on international Emirates flights, especially if you’re taking some time out at the superb A380 bar – but you can still keep in touch thanks to the Gulf carrier’s free WiFi service.

But there’s a catch: you have to be a member of Emirates’ Skywards frequent flyer program.

Even in business and first class, inflight Internet is complimentary only for Skywards members – for everyone else, it can cost USD$3-20 depending on which package you choose.

Here’s the rundown:

  • Skywards Blue, Silver, Gold and Platinum members travelling in any class – economy, premium economy, business or first – have free text messaging for their entire flight. This covers apps like iMessage, Facebook Messenger,  WhatsApp, WeChat, Line or Viber
  • Skywards Blue, Silver, Gold and Platinum members travelling in first class receive full unlimited Internet access
  • Skywards Silver, Gold and Platinum members travelling in business class also enjoy full unlimited Internet access
  • Skywards Platinum members travelling in any class can look forward to full unlimited Internet access

Entering a frequent flyer number from the loyalty program of a partner airline such as Qantas cuts no ice here – it’s Skywards or nothing.

Our tip: make sure you have the password to your Emirates Skywards account on hand, because you’ll need this to log into the free WiFi on board. The system has no way to look up your password or to set a new password, and the flight attendants can’t help in this regard.

At least without your Skywards login you can still watch live TV streamed from the BBC World Service, CNN International, Sky News Arabia and Sport 24.

During a recent Emirates A380 flight from Sydney to Dubai, Executive Traveller found the connection ran at a decent clip: while certainly not zippy, it was far from sluggish: we’d describe it as “usable-with-patience”.

A small WiFi icon at top-right of the Emirates WiFi portal window shows how many active users there are at any time, and even when sharing the connection with 30-60 other flyers it held up well.

That said, there were certainly times during the flight when for no apparent reason the WiFi connection became slower and slower, to the point of being frustratingly unusable, before it would eventually bounce back to normality.

If you don’t hold suitable Skywards status, or have forgotten your password and are thus unable to log in, then you’ll be up for the following:

  • Unlimited text-only chat: USD$3-6 depending on the length of the flight
  • Unlimited WiFi: USD$10-20 depending on the length of the flight

Emirates WiFi FAQs

Does Emirates have inflight WiFi?

Yes, Emirates offers sky-high WiFi on practically every flight. Both complimentary access and paid plans are available.

Which Emirates flights have WiFi?

The entire Emirates fleet is outfitted with inflight internet. No matter whether you are travelling on an Airbus A380 or a Boeing 777, you should be able to browse online while at cruising altitude, bar any technical malfunctions or while flying over restricted zones.

Scheduled to enter service in mid-2024, the Gulf carrier’s latest Airbus A350 aircraft will also feature high-speed internet access, in the form of Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) satellite network.

How much does Emirates WiFi cost?

Paid WiFi plans on Emirates costs vary depending on your Skywards membership tier, travel class and your route.

As a guide, the available plans are:

  • Unlimited chat: Connect free to all your favourite text apps (WhatsApp, iMessage, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Line or Viber) for the whole flight
  • WiFi for the whole flight: USD $9.99 (AUD $14.50) - USD $19.99 (AUD $29) depending on the length of the flight
  • Easy connect - available in selected regions: USD $9.99 (AUD $14.50) for 30 minutes with no data limit

Does Emirates have free WiFi?

Yes, Emirates has two forms of free WiFi, though both are only available to Emirates Skywards members.

The first option is free unlimited chat, which allows Emirates Skywards Blue members travelling in business class or Emirates Skywards Gold members travelling in economy to use WhatsApp, Messenger and other text services for free.

For those wanting to access free WiFi for the whole flight, the requirements are as follows: 

  • Passengers travelling in first and business class receive unlimited free WiFi for all Skywards members (Blue, Silver, Gold, Platinum)
  • In economy passengers, Skywards Gold and Platinum members only receive unlimited free WiFi

To take advantage of this offer, you must have your Skywards number linked to the booking at least 24 hours before take-off. Onboard, you’ll use your membership number and password to log-in.

How fast is Emirates WiFi?

Emirates WiFi speed depends on various factors, the most significant being the number of users connected at one time. Executive Traveller previously ran speed tests onboard and managed to get downloads between 5-10Mbps, with uploads of just over 1Mbps. These speeds are perfectly fine for light browsing.

To help judge the current network load, Emirates handily shows the number of people currently connected. A green WiFi icon means speeds should be higher, while a red WiFi icon means speeds may suffer due to the number of people connected.

Do I need the Emirates App to use WiFi?

No, WiFi access onboard is independent of the Emirates App.

How do I access Emirates WiFi?

  • Turn your device into flight mode, then activate WiFi and connect to the OnAir network after takeoff
  • Either login as a Skywards member to see promotions and discounts, or continue as a guest
  • If you’re eligible for unlimited complimentary internet, that option will show up
  • For non-eligible guests, use a card to pay for a WiFi plan

Does Emirates WiFi work during the whole flight?

Not exactly – while Emirates inflight internet will work during most of the flight, there are certain times where the connection won’t be active:

  • When the plane is under 10,000 feet (i.e. just after take-off or before landing)
  • When flying over a restricted geographical location

Can I use my Emirates WiFi allowance across separate flights?

No, Emirates WiFi plans are only valid per flight. If you have connecting flights, you will need to purchase access again for the second flight. 

Can I use my Emirates WiFi allowance across separate devices?

Yes, paid WiFi plans are tied to your personal details. You can log on to a new device and continue your browsing session.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1199

More proof of the bonkers state of the JV between Qantas and Emirates.  Emirates doesn't recognise Qantas status when you attempt to use WiFi meanwhile Qantas website seems to refuse to offer alternative of flights on EK metal with QF flight number......Maybe, all is not well.

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