These five airlines give you free inflight Internet

By Chris Chamberlin, June 14 2017

Inflight Internet is virtually ubiquitous these days with most major airlines offering some form of sky-high WiFi – and while this has traditionally attracted sky-high prices to match, the cost of connecting mid-flight is on the decline, with some airlines now even offering the service for free.

Among them: Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Finnair, Qantas and Virgin Australia: and if the trend continues, the prospect of paying for inflight Internet could soon mirror the same concept at hotels, where Internet access once cost a small fortune but now comes at no charge for most guests.

Australian Business Traveller highlights five airlines that provide some form of free inflight Internet, including how you can take advantage on your next domestic or international flight.

Emirates: free Airbus A380, Boeing 777 inflight Internet

A business or first class ticket with Emirates now buys unlimited free WiFi with the Gulf carrier, provided you’re also a member of the Emirates Skywards program and enter your Skywards number via the login screen to gain access.

Passengers booked in economy aren’t forgotten either, with the previous allowance of 10MB now boosted to 20MB for use within two hours of first connecting: although further browsing now costs US$9.99 for 150MB or US$15.99 for 500MB if you’re stuck down the back.

It’s a win for business travellers trying to get work done at the pointy end, because Emirates’ previous offer of 10MB of free Internet for all – and just US$1 for a further 500MB – frequently resulted in speeds so slow as to be entirely unusable: these new prices hopefully tapering demand and bringing faster Internet to all users.

AusBT review: Emirates Airbus A380, Boeing 777 inflight Internet

Finnair: free Airbus A330, A350 inflight Internet

Travel on any Finnair Airbus A350, or most Finnair A330s, and you’ll similarly find WiFi at-hand: complimentary for the entire flight for Finnair Platinum and Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers travelling in any cabin, including Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge.

Business class passengers, Finnair Gold and Oneworld Sapphire frequent flyers (such as Qantas Gold) instead receive one hour of complimentary connectivity and can purchase further access at standard rates, being €7.95 for one hour, €11.95 for three hours or €19.95 for the entire flight.

(Previously, access was complimentary for the entire flight for these travellers, but has recently been trimmed back to an hour.)

Finnair doesn’t fly its own aircraft to Australia, although does fly its Airbus A350s from both Hong Kong and Singapore to Helsinki, Finland, which can be booked as part of a connecting journey from Australia via Qantas, British Airways and Cathay Pacific.

AusBT review: Finnair Airbus A350 inflight Internet

Qantas: free Boeing 737 inflight WiFi

Your next Qantas domestic flight may provide sky-high WiFi if you chance upon the airline’s current Boeing 737 test aircraft (registration VH-XZB) – set to be joined by a second WiFi-equipped Boeing 737 later this month and a connected Airbus A330 shortly thereafter.

There are no time or download limits to get in your way, and access is completely free for all travellers: not just those seated in business class or with a shiny frequent flyer card.

Just enter your first name, last name and seat number to get online, with typical download speeds of around 10-15Mbps to be expected: fast enough for streaming Netflix in high definition and downloading large files and email attachments.

AusBT review: Qantas Boeing 737 inflight Internet

Virgin Australia: free Boeing 737 inflight WiFi

Qantas challenger Virgin Australia is also trialling sky-high WiFi aboard a single Boeing 737, and during that trial period, access is free for all passengers – again with no time or download limits.

The airline hasn’t yet revealed whether the service will remain free for any flyers following the conclusion of the trial: instead, it’s believed to be considering a two-tiered pricing model, with a higher price for a higher speed – such as for streaming video – and a reduced price for low-data tasks like emails and basic browsing.

The prospect of keeping the internet fee-free is still on the table, however, as is the idea of offering the first 30 minutes free and charging for further access, so until a final decision is made, make the most of the complimentary access!

AusBT review: Virgin Australia Boeing 737 inflight Internet

Cathay Pacific: free Airbus A350 inflight Internet

Ordinarily, Cathay Pacific charges for its inflight Internet – either US$9.95 for one hour or US$19.95 for the entire flight on journeys over six hours – but by completing a few quick questions, you can get the first hour free.

On the main hotspot homepage, ignore the prices up the top and instead scroll down until you see ‘get free WiFi’. Click it, enter a few details and voila, you’ll be given a voucher code that you can redeem through the main portal for one hour of complimentary surfing.

Read: How to get free WiFi on Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific currently offers inflight Internet aboard its Airbus A350 aircraft, including on selected flights between Hong Kong and Melbourne, Brisbane and London, although not on its Airbus A330s, Boeing 777s or other jets.

AusBT review: Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 inflight Internet

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

happyfly.cz

happyfly.cz

14 Jun 2017

Total posts 1

Where do you have Norwegian???

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2337

We have focussed on five airlines most often flown by Australian business travellers (our target audience) and that set doesn't include Norwegian.

kimshep

kimshep

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 492

David - would this not include US carriers flying across the Pacific ie: Delta, American etc.? Given QF and VA's complete inability to provide international WiFi services, I would presume that many business (and leisure) customers might find the attraction valid, in order to get some work done.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2951

Kimshep: This article focuses on airlines that offer free inflight Internet, as per the headline, whereas both American and Delta charge for their connections.

(It's also not a comprehensive list: Qatar Airways also offers 10MB/15 minutes of free Internet on Airbus A350 and A380 flights, but charges all passengers for further access - unlike those mentioned which offer at least one hour of free connectivity in one way or another.)

kimshep

kimshep

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 492

.. Thanks for your reply Chris

- but under your advice offered, I would consider the inclusion of both QF and VA (each with one domestic frame fitted with WiFi) to be somewhat of a misnomer, given their extensive domestic networks and fleets. In QF's case, one WiFi aircraft in the 75 strong B737-800 fleet is 'token', at best. 

Perhaps, I am frustrated at the lack of WiFi on these two carriers (yes, I am, to be clear). Whether carrier XYZ charges for access or not, at least they are offering WiFi on international routes. Can we expect WiFi on QF / VA on any international routes in less than 18 months from today? My bet would be 'no'.

Further, I would like to see a little more clarification in the above article re. the international Economy / Economy Plus cabins WiFi costs, if any. for those who travel in those cabins. By contrast, for QF and VA, that is well clarified.

deanr

deanr

04 May 2015

Total posts 231

You do realise that Qantas and Virgin are expanding this to far more than one aircraft each, don't you? They didn't just kit out one plane each and say "that's it, we have wi-fi now" as your comment makes it seem.

kimshep

kimshep

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 492

Fortunately, having had a reasonably good education, I do have the basic capability to read (and follow AUSBT's usually well written articles), deanr.

The article clearly points to the expected expansion of WiFi services provision on both QF and VA over the coming months. My point here is that QF and VA currently have just one domestic WiFi-equipped aircraft each - hardly instilling confidence that customers to <anywhere> out of SYD, MEL, BNE, PER et al can expect to even find a WiFi equipped service.

Given that QF started 'playing' with WiFi (internationally) in 2012 on a trans-Pacific A380-800, don't you think that said company has had more than sufficient time to address a strategy for this critical technology, both domestically and internationally? QF had the opportunity to be a pace-setter back in 2012 but has become nothing more than a - late - follower. Hardly a reason for kudos when US carriers, both domestic and international, have led the way for the past few years. This is not limited to size of fleet, either. Think JetBlue, Southwest etc - both a smaller and larger US domestic carrier(s), let alone AA, DL and UA internationally.

As said in my previous reply - how long before the entire fleet of 75 B737-800's get fitted out, what about the B717 fleet .. and more importantly, what about regional and international ie: A330-200/300, B787-9 and A380-800's? I suspect we could still be having the same conversation in 2 years time.

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2337

Hi Kimshep – we're waiting for 'end-of-trial' updates from both Qantas and Virgin Australia on their respective WiFi rollouts, and that'll be the subject of seperate articles once we have that info. Qantas' plans for its Boeing 717s and international routes has already been covered in previous Qantas WiFi articles; this article was more a 'state of play' with regards to free inflight Internet by spotlighting five airlines commonly flown by Aussies which offer free WiFi in some form.

kimshep

kimshep

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 492

Many thanks David - I will wait with continued interest on the proposed article concerning a finite roll-out schedule. Thumbs up!

terryj

terryj

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Sep 2016

Total posts 10

Finnair now only offer oneWorld Emeralds 1 hour of free inflight internet. 

Serg

Serg

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1446

I do not know about Australia coverage, but recently flown BKK-HEL in A350 by AY and found Internet virtually useless. It was dropped frequently, speed was mediocre and basically it was useless for anything except of short instant messages, emails and reading sites with very little and static adds (ausbt not one of them) like wikipedia, for example. So it was anything, but entertainment. I thought that $20 or so per whole flight is very decent price, but after such experience I believe that it is robbery. I was planning to test CX internet on my flight back (also A350), but discard this idea - if nothing can be found on their movie box and you cannot sleep then I rather download something to watch/listen on my laptop before flight. So for time been in-flight internet is over for me. YMMV though.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2951

Serg: Finnair's inflight Internet used to be blocked when flying in Chinese airspace due to government restrictions, although this has since been resolved - so depending on the route your flight took, this may (or may not) have been the reason for those dropouts. :)

henrus

henrus

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 714

AY90 BKK-HEL doesn't seem to travel through Chinese Airspace at all so that probably wasn't the issue.

If you look at Flyertalk under the Finnair A350 thread you'll see some people have said it's great and others have said "they wouldn't pay a cent for it".

I personally think the problem is that airlines offer plans based on a time-based situation instead of data.

If the Wifi was billed per mb at a rate of a couple of cents per MB then it would both allow people who wish to pay for a high-speed service to receive it and keep those who simply the $20 or even $1 just to see how much they can use it when it's unlimited.

I'm not sure how much bandwidth Qantas has per aircraft but when Virgin does finally make it pay and announce it on flights, I hope that it will be enough so that people don't decide they want to do a Skype call or watch Netflix (there just isn't enough Bandwith even on o3b).

japanair772

japanair772

Japan Airlines - JAL Mileage Bank

09 May 2017

Total posts 14

Doesn't' Japan Airlines have 15minutes free wifi?

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2951

Hi japanair772, as above, this isn't a comprehensive list, and those airlines that have been included offer at least one hour of free connectivity in one way or another.

Japan Airlines previously offered free WiFi to business class passengers flying between Sydney and Tokyo for the duration of the flight (but which actually didn't work in Australian airspace, so its practicality was limited), although recent reports are that these complimentary vouchers are no longer being offered.

(You can read our review of JAL's WiFi here, written at a time when the complimentary vouchers were still being handed out.)

Howie50

Howie50

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jan 2016

Total posts 10

Well, like most things on this planet, you get what you pay for and my flight on the Qantas service from ADL to SYD on Monday evening was a no go on the free WiFi :(

japanair772

japanair772

Japan Airlines - JAL Mileage Bank

09 May 2017

Total posts 14

I know ANA isn't free but does it work on Australian Airspace?

elsmicko

elsmicko

10 Nov 2016

Total posts 6

I assume using the Skymuster service? That's great if it is, we are in the bush and get to use a LOT of our 40Gb allowance if we use Netflix.... good to see it being put to important use.....

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