- Plans to suit most access needs
- Slower-than-expected speeds
- Plans count both time and data
- Free for the first 15 minutes
Qatar Airways' Airbus A350 flights between Adelaide and Doha not only bring a new aircraft with new business class seats into Australian skies, but also the airline's inflight Internet service.
Free for the first 15 minutes and chargeable thereafter, it allows busy business travellers to keep in touch with the office or their loved ones back home in between take-off and touchdown.
Australian Business Traveller went sky-high surfing on a recent flight from the City of Churches to the Qatari capital to bring you this review.
Qatar Airways Airbus A350 inflight Internet: plans
Travellers aboard Qatar Airways' Airbus A350s can choose between four Internet plans, with prices being the same for laptops, tablets and smartphones.
But note that each of those plans has both a time limit and a data limit, expiring as soon as either limit is reached.
- 10MB/15 minutes: FREE
- 30MB/one hour: US$5 (A$6.56)
- 100MB/three hours: US$10 (A$13.12)
- 200MB/duration of the flight: US$20 (A$26.24)
On one hand, it's great to see a free option which proves ample for a quick sweep of your emails and a check-in on social media, but on the other, having dual limits on each plan does make them very restrictive.
That's because a traveller could purchase the US$20 flight plan – hoping to maximise their work aboard – but chew through their data allowance in a much shorter period and be left with no connection at all.
Qatar Airways inflight Internet: getting online
Simply connect to the 'OnAir' hotspot and open your web browser to find the free 15-minute plan waiting for you:
At this point you can't select one of the paid options, but a wise man would use this free trial period to test the connection speed before shelling out for the paid service.
Returning customers can log-in to their existing Qatar Airways WiFi account to get connected faster, while first-timers need to create an account using their email address, which takes only moments.
Once online, you'll be reminded of your flight details including the flight number – handy if you need to complete an arrivals card – along with the weather at your flight's destination.
Hot tip: If you've packed multiple devices like a smartphone, laptop and a tablet, you can enjoy a separate (and free) 15-minute Internet session on each device, provided you supply a different email address on each one:
Once the free period has passed, you can then purchase a plan and monitor your usage on the WiFi portal's main screen, or observe how quickly you tore through your data:
Paid plans can also be shared between your devices but used on only one device at a time: so if you're working on your laptop but pack it away while dining, fire up your smartphone or tablet and login to your WiFi account to continue browsing.
Qatar Airways A350 inflight Internet: surfing speeds
Nobody expects lightning-fast inflight Internet, but the connection on tonight's flight was very much on the slow side with download speeds topping out at 0.39Mbps, uploads at 0.77Mbps and with pings of 1396ms:
Uploads proved on-par with most ADSL and entry-level NBN fibre plans on the ground in Australia, allowing you to send email attachments or upload images in much the same time as you would at home.
Downloads, however, ran considerably more slowly, and while the connection was still usable, speeds could certainly have been faster.
We'd also like to see Qatar remove its data download limits to remain competitive with Gulf neighbours Emirates and Etihad, on which your connection is measured by time (Etihad) or costs only US$1 for 500MB (Emirates).
More reviews and features on inflight Internet:
- British Airways to launch inflight Internet in early 2017
- Review: Emirates' free inflight Internet for Airbus A380, Boeing 777
- Qantas boosts inflight Internet, plans live streaming of cricket
- Review: Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 inflight Internet
- Review: Etihad inflight Internet