Virgin Australia to match Qantas with free WiFi on Aussie flights

By David Flynn, August 10 2017

Virgin Australia will match Qantas in offering free Internet on all Australian flights from later this year.

Virgin today fired the starter's gun on its own WiFi rollout, announcing plans to outfit most of its 77-strong Boeing 737 fleet with the satellite technology by the end of 2018.

Inflight Internet will also be available - at a price that's yet to be revealed - on Virgin's Boeing 777 flights to the USA and Airbus A330 services to Hong Kong and China.

Read: Virgin Australia ramps up WiFi to USA, then Asia

Speaking to Australian Business Traveller this morning, airline CEO John Borghetti said all passengers on those domestic legs flown by the Boeing 737s will enjoy "a basic free offering" of Internet access.

Free access will not apply to the handful of Boeing 737 international routes such as New Zealand and Fiji "at this stage, but you know that we are competitive and will always meet the competitive position in the market," Borghetti said.

Two-tier system: free, and a fee

Borghetti also confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that the airline would implement a two-tiered system, with passengers able to pay "to upgrade that to further access, depending on what the guest wants."

This paid premium package is tipped to offer more security and could also offer a consistently faster connection compared to the entry-level free service, depending on how service provider Gogo configures the system.

Borghetti tells Australian Business Traveller that "we’re going to release the pricing structure shortly."

Virgin's move towards a two-tier system – first reported by Australian Business Traveller earlier this year – could put it at odds against Qantas, which promises a single-tier system that's fast and free for all travellers.

Instead, Virgin plans for what it has termed Basic and High Speed options – the latter of which was pitched at between $15 to $21 per flight in a survey sent to selected Virgin Australia passengers in March 2017.

Read the AusBT review of Virgin Australia's inflight Internet service

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.

Nburgess31

Nburgess31

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 May 2017

Total posts 10

Makes sense have two tier process.  With totally free the system will be overwhelmed by PAX trying to stream content.  Free access allows basic web browsing and email checking, you pay if you want more.

John Odlum

John Odlum

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 56

Totally fine with a two-tier system, as long as the lower free tier is usable for basics such as web, email, social media. If you want streaming you should be prepared to pay for the higher bandwidth needed, and get a guarantee of the speed you need.

mjduckby89

mjduckby89

09 Aug 2017

Total posts 8

John, with all due respect, I absolutely do not buy your argument that you ought to pay for it. When you visit a hotel or airport lounge, it is nowadays reasonable to expect that you will be furnished with a complimentary and suitable internet connection. This is not always met, but it's a reasonable customer expectation to hold.

Satellite technology has improved in quality and reduced in price. It is now incumbent upon premium airlines to provide their customers with this service. If Virgin wants to continue being viewed as a premium carrier (which in my opinion, it can barely manage to do today), it needs to offer a premium complimentary internet service to its customers. 

The Evil Muppet

The Evil Muppet

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

16 Dec 2015

Total posts 41

I disagree. How many airlines offer in-flight internet connectivity for free (even for premium cabin passengers)?

The number is exceedingly small.

Doubleplatinum Banned

Doubleplatinum Banned

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 558

Sounds like you are alone in your expectations

Susan White

Susan White

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 12

Great news, and what some people forget is that wifi isn't actually "free" because somebody has to pay for it, in this case it's Virgin. So a basic speed connection for free and a faster one paid makes perfect sense. You can't complain about Virgin doing poorly financially and not serving 'proper' snacks on flights and in the lounges while also expecting them to pay for expensive satellite bandwidth just so you can stream Game of Thrones en route to Perth for free.

aklrunway

aklrunway

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 335

Typical Virgin and their inconsistency. Free on all flights except...

Of course.

Susan White

Susan White

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 12

"Free on all flights except" what? Flights to NZ and Fiji which could be out range of the Optus satellite and so come under a different contract with Gogo for overseas satellites? International flights where Qantas doesn't even have WiFi yet? Some of the Virgin knockers need to stop and think before typing.

aklrunway

aklrunway

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 335

Maybe they could focus on making their schedules and inflight service consistent before thinking about adding yet another inconsistent service.

The Evil Muppet

The Evil Muppet

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

16 Dec 2015

Total posts 41

The premium package is tipped to offer more security? That makes precisely zero sense. 

moa999

moa999

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1377

Maybe blocking VPNs - pity that would also knock out some corporate email access.

Only time will tell.

And if more people start streaming on QF, I suspect they'd move in the same direction (much like EK cut back on free wifi because it was becoming unusable)

The Evil Muppet

The Evil Muppet

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

16 Dec 2015

Total posts 41

Blocking VPN connectivity isn't going to have any impact on the security of the service provided in any way, shape or form. 

Whoever is proposing that improved security is a premium offering possibility doesn't understand the technology or is quoting someone who doesn't understand the technology (or both). 

jad01

jad01

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Jul 2012

Total posts 9

I agree with the idea of a two tiered approach.

Often when something is free, people use it because it's there and not because they actually need to.

I've been on a 'free'wifi''flight and it took 15min for a single email that was text only.

I think that if someone is going to sit there watching streamed entertainment sucking enormous data, then they should pay for it.

Paully

Paully

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

02 Feb 2015

Total posts 20

awesome ! but do I really want work to know they can reach me on in the sky ? I love the fact that at the moment by fellow passengers ( next to me ) cannot make calls and youtube . Am I alone in this serenity ........

AeroSexual

AeroSexual

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Jan 2016

Total posts 14

VA have no choice - it's Ku band technology - the airtime economics don't add up to offer it free across the board, hence the spin of 'two-tiers'. QF on the other hand are using Ka band technology - it's generally superior, especially in the airtime economics, so it can be free to all passengers, all the time.

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