Qatar Airways offers free WiFi (for the first 15 minutes)

By David Flynn, December 15 2015
Qatar Airways offers free WiFi (for the first 15 minutes)

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.

AusBT review: Qatar Airways Boeing 777 business class, Melbourne to Doha

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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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.

Does anyone know if inflight connectivity is good enough to chat/send pics on whatsapp/iMessage?

Yes, connectivity is indeed fair - whatsapp images are easily handled. 

A worthy improvement. Just a few weeks ago it was 5 dollars for 12 mb - I am terribly afraid of "volume based" connections as I don't really have a clue what goes on in my phone as far as data consumption is concerned! :) 

12 Feb 2014

Total posts 227

As long as they don't scrape their tails, I'll be happy.

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1242

And then announce that such things happen "all the time".

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 273

When I flew Qatar from Paris to Doha - the in flight wi-fi speeds were abysmal. Like even whatsapp msg's wouldn't send, and it was just no use to pay. 

On the other hand - Etihad from Abu Dhabi to London offered some really great wi-fi speeds - which I suppose is actually due to different technologies rather than service providers. 

I suppose this is fair to let people see if they want to pay or not bother in that case.

Air New Zealand - NZ*E

17 May 2015

Total posts 93

I am sure in years to come we will look back at this service and the cost and cringe at what we put up with!! However, given the many challanges of delivering the internet to an airplane travelling 10km above the earth travelling at 900kmh I am positive we will find a way to make it better or even free for all. In the mean time we will have to put up with what we have.

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