Reviews

Review: Etihad inflight Internet

Overall Rating

By David Flynn, June 5 2014
Etihad inflight Internet
Notes
The Good
  • Fast connection
  • 'Flight pass' option
X-Factor
  • Exceptional value

Introduction

Etihad Airways is one of several airlines now offering inflight Internet on international flights, and we tested its fetchingly-named Wi-Fly service on a recent journey from Abu Dhabi to Sydney.

Content

While most airlines charge for sky-high surfing according to how much data you use, Etihad's Wi-Fly pricing is geared to how long you're connected for.

There are three very straight-forward options: US$12 for two hours, US$18 for four hours or US$22 for the entire flight.

Given that the trek from Abu Dhabi to Sydney is 14 hours, choosing to pay US$22 to remain connected for the duration of the trip was a no-brainer.

That doesn't mean staying online from go to woah, of course: you can close your laptop or switch off your tablet at any point during the flight, and then just reconnect later on as desired.

Although Etihad doesn't impose a limit on how much data you use, it's good practice to disable any automatic cloud-based backup software before jumping online at 30,000 feet so that all of the connection's bandwidth is available for your web browsing or email.

(And if you're flying with an airline which charges based on data rather than time, your entire session can be over with just a few minutes of accidental cloud backup.)

Wireless hotspots for Etihad's satellite-based Wi-Fly network are dotted throughout its planes.

A modified version of the Etihad home page greets you – note the scrolling information atop the page which shows how much 'connectivity time' you have on the flight and in the satellite's coverage zone.

The Internet service itself is packaged as a T-Mobile wireless hotspot, and to use this you need to create a special T-Mobile hotspot account if you don't already have one.

The same account can be used on future flights with Etihad and other airlines which use T-Mobile, as well as T-Mobile's conventional WiFi hotspots at cafes and the like, so it's a good idea to keep a record of your username and password.

(Also note that the  password must include letters, numbers and 'special characters’ – something not made fully clear by the login software when trying to set up your new account.)

Having opted for the 'Flight pass' package at US$22 and supplied my credit card details, I was on the air.

(You'll receive a receipt via email if you need to claim this cost back as a company expense.)

Checking the connection at the Speedtest website revealed a decent 3.3Mbps download speed, although the upload rate of 0.16Mbps and latency of 918ms were as you'd expect from the satellite-based service.

From then on, it was literally business as usual: browsing the web to catch up on news, shooting emails back and forth, a bit of social media and so on.

If you're a 'power user' accustomed to a fast Internet connection at work or home you'll need to modify your web habits and not have more than a few windows open as a time – that's more a function of the high latency than the actual connection speed.

Having purchased a 'flight pass' means you can disconnect from the Wi-Fly network at any time – to enjoy a meal, watch an inflight movie or grab some sleep – and later log back on again, by entering your username and password.

You can also use the same login across several devices, making it easy to swap between a laptop and tablet for example, but only one connection at a time is allowed.

During the entire flight I experienced only one Internet dropout, which happened as we flew into Western Australia, but this lasted for just five minutes before the connection bounced back.

In all, this was the best experience I've enjoyed with inflight Internet to date – a usable speed at a great price which covered the entire flight.

David

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.

Kogglogs

Kogglogs

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Apr 2013

Total posts 147

It's worth noting too that certain airspace prohibit the usage of onboard WiFi (according to EY's onboard printed WiFly collateral). I find from personal experience where the WiFi drops out for an extended period of 30-60 mins at a time, that this is particularly true for the first 2-3hrs flying out of AUH across to EU countries.

olly

olly

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Mar 2014

Total posts 26

Really seems to put other airlines internet to shame. Great pricing.

Kogglogs

Kogglogs

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Apr 2013

Total posts 147

Agreed - exceptional value. 

CL9

CL9

22 Mar 2012

Total posts 200

0.16mbps upload speed? Ouch.

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2336

CL9: yep, made for the average user who just browses the web and doesn't deal with uploading or sending large email attachments (a shame, as it's be cool to be able to send people back home a bunch of snaps from your trip while you're on the flight heading home!).

CL9

CL9

22 Mar 2012

Total posts 200

Yeah that's what I was thinking as if I had the opportunity to use such good value in-flight internet, I'd be definitely on Facebook uploading some great photos!

jarkti

jarkti

01 Sep 2014

Total posts 1

Is the Wi-Fly only on certain airfract? such as the 777..
Travling PER-LHR on EY next month and was wondering.

aangel

aangel

15 Aug 2012

Total posts 1

I have to take part in a conference call while in the air. Will Ethiad be good enough to listen and talk? Im flying Bus Class

Bob Burgess

Bob Burgess

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 184

I would check with Etihad first of all to see if they allow voice calls like Skype, as many airlines block those services from inflight Internet.

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