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Qatar Airways is setting inflight Internet free – at least for the first 15 minutes of your time online.
That's more than enough for the obligatory Facebook post of your seat or meal, a guess-where-I'm-tweeting-from social media shout-out and perhaps an in-seat selfie, along with a catch-up on your email.
Once those 15 minutes are up, the next hour will cost US$5 or three hours at US$10 – although the best value is a flat US$20 for the entire flight.
This gratis serve of sky-high surfing starts from December 17 and will run for three years, under a sponsorship deal with Doha-based Gulf telco Ooredoo.
(If you're in first class cabin on the airline’s Airbus A380, the WiFi is free from start to finish.)
"We believe on-board shouldn’t mean off-line" commented Qatar Airways CEO, His Excellency Akbar Al Baker.
"By offering customers the chance to stay connected whilst flying, Qatar Airways is demonstrating its promise to offer a premium service to all customers."
The Gulf airline currently flies to Melbourne and Perth, and will launch flights to Sydney in March 2016 followed by Adelaide in May – with the City of Churches blessed by Australia's first Airbus A350 service.
Photo tour: Qatar Airbus A350 business class
Gulf states neighbour and powerhouse competitor Emirates also tempts travellers with a free serve of 10MB of data, with another 600MB available for a measly US$1 – and promises “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.”
Etihad's fetchingly-named Wi-Fly service is priced at US$12 for two hours, US$18 for four hours or US$22 for the entire flight.
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