Qatar Airways plans faster WiFi, live TV for Boeing 787s, Airbus A380s

The high-speed satellite service will be rolled out across 70 long-range jets across the coming year.

By David Flynn, November 20 2019

Qatar Airways will add live TV channels and high-speed 'Super WiFi' to a large portion of its international fleet in 2020, upgrading from an older and slower technology to what can best be described as 'broadband in the sky'.

The Gulf airline's Airbus A380 superjumbos and Boeing 787 Dreamliners, numbering 70 in all, are switching to a fast 2Ku satellite service from Gogo, which is also the Internet provider for Virgin Australia among other airlines.

Qatar's Super WiFi is already one of the fastest international connections above the clouds, with travellers able to enjoy unlimited WiFi across the length of their flight for US$10-US$20 with download speeds around 5Mbps.

While Super WiFi is funnelled through Inmarsat's GX Aviation Ka-band satellite network, Gogo's 2Ku system will boost connection speeds and add live TV channels – a bundle which typically includes an international roster of news and sports – into the bargain.

"Having access to the Internet, and being connected and available is critical for passengers, and the demand for bandwidth will only increase," said Qatar Airways Group CEO His Excellency Akbar Al Baker.

The refit will include Qatar's 10-strong Airbus A380 fleet, despite plans to begin retiring the double-decker jets from 2024.

Al Baker tipped the fate of the A380 fleet at this year's Paris Air Show in June, admitting "we feel that the aircraft does not have very long future in Qatar Airways' fleet. We would think about retiring those aeroplanes on their 10th anniversary, unless something untoward happens and we need them."

He confirmed this would see the Oneworld member's first A380 put out to pasture in 2024 "because it would be 10 years old."

This relatively short use-by date also means the A380s won't be upgraded to the airline's highly-regarded Qsuite business class suites, which would also need to be re-designed to fit onto the upper deck.

Qatar Airways is now readying a next-generation Qsuite to take wing on its Boeing 787-9 fleet from 2020, along with a new single-aisle business class for its Airbus A321neo jets.

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.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Oct 2016

Total posts 48

About time! Their WiFi is hopelessly and uselessly slow! Don't know where you find it one of the fastest... In my frequent experience it's so frustrating. Not as good as Cathays.

09 Mar 2015

Total posts 23

On the Super Wi-Fi jets it's actually very good, but the A380s for example are woeful, you're better off not even trying to use WiFi when it's so unreliable. This is when a free 60 minutes comes in handy because you can try the service and determine if it's worth paying for. Anyway very good news that Qatar is investing in A380 Super Wi-Fi even though the aircraft themselves are being retired starting five years from now.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 79

They currently have 2 different WiFi providers. Sounds like you've experienced the slow one. Because the other is very good. They're replacing the slow one.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Oct 2016

Total posts 48

Ah ok yes I've only used the A380 one.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Feb 2017

Total posts 4

Does anyone know if Boingo inflight wireless can be used with Qatar Airways?

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 400

They put so much effort into the inflight product, which is commendable and often great value for fares paid. On the ground a shambles , esp when things go wrong. From an Aus perspective even the Sydney Airport Qatar Airways team on the ground are arrogant and rude. I think a little more effort on the ground too Mr Al Bar would help even out the Qatar Airways experience land and air.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Apr 2011

Total posts 32

One of the problems with ground staff in most airports is that they are not Qatar employees. They are more than likely employed by companies like Swissport who provide the people to staff check in counters. They have no incentive to be nice to people. It's just a job. They wear a Qatar uniform in the morning and in the afternoon, they are representing another airline and so on. I flew on Qatar from Berlin to Singapore last year and the check in at Tegel was one unholy mess and complete chaos. On Monday this week I flew Birmingham-Doha-Adelaide and the check in at BHX was almost flawless. Mind you, it was an early morning flight and I was about 3 hours early, so not many people around. But I don't think it was a full flight in any case.


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