Virgin Australia's inflight WiFi is rapidly rolling out across most of the airline's domestic, trans-Tasman and longer-range international flights to Los Angeles and Tokyo.
A basic WiFi service suitable for Web browsing, email and social media is free on Virgin flights within Australia, with higher-speed options for streaming video or working with larger files via the cloud, while WiFi pricing on overseas flights starts at $6.99 per hour.
This Executive Traveller guide to Virgin Australia WiFi will be continuously updated to provide you with the latest news and developments.
Do Virgin Australia flights have WiFi?
Yes, most domestic and international Virgin Australia flights have inflight internet connectivity.
At the time of writing, most of the airline's domestic fleet have been retrofitted with the tell-tale WiFi hump. This includes Virgin's workhorse Boeing 737s – the most common jets flying on domestic and short international routes (such as to New Zealand) – and the larger twin-aisle Airbus A330s typically seen on coast-to-coast transcontinental routes and the new Brisbane-Tokyo service.
Regional Virgin Australia ATR and Airbus A320 jets won't be getting inflight connectivity, however.
Which Virgin Australia aircraft are equipped with WiFi?
|Boeing 737 (domestic, international)||Yes (60 of VA's 85 B737 aircraft have WiFi installed)|
|Airbus A330 (domestic, international)||Yes (five of VA's six A330s have WiFi installed)|
|Boeing 777 (international)||Yes (all VA B777 flights have WiFi)|
|ATRs, Airbus A320, Fokker 100||No (regional jets won't get WiFi)|
As of March 2020 the airline's WiFi upgrades to the Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 fleet is over 80% complete, a Virgin Australia spokesperson tells Executive Traveller, although the spokesperson was unable to say when all aircraft would have WiFi "as the roll-out is ongoing".
Is Virgin Australia WiFi free?
Yes, on all domestic and trans-Tasman flights Virgin Australia offers a free serve of inflight Internet access.
On domestic flights there's unlimited free WiFi, although the speeds are generally capped at around 1Mbps – suitable for "basic Web browsing, email and social media", Virgin Australia tells Executive Traveller.
On flights between Australia and New Zealand, Virgin's trans-Tasman travellers currently get 15 minutes of free WiFi, after which the paid plans kick in.
(Note that access to Virgin Australia's own web site remains free for all passengers on connected aircraft, in case you need to book more flights or manage your upcoming bookings online.)
How much does Virgin Australia WiFi cost?
Aside from those free Virgin Australia WiFi options, if you want even faster speeds or limitless WiFi, the following charges apply (all prices in Australian dollars):
- Domestic: $11.99 for a higher-speed connection than the free Standard tier
- trans-Tasman and short-range international: from $6.99 per hour or $12.99 for the whole flight
- long-range international (Los Angeles, Tokyo): from $8.99 per hour or $19.99 for the whole flight
How fast is Virgin Australia WiFi?
Internet speeds depend heavily on the number of users also connected at the same time.
In general, expect the free WiFi on domestic flights to be capped around 1Mbps when there's heavy use, such as weekday mornings and evenings – that's good enough for light work, emails and the like.
The paid plans ratchet up "to 13Mbps for higher-bandwidth applications such as video streaming and downloading large files or attachments," a Virgin Australia spokesperson tells Executive Traveller.
At those speeds you should be able to comfortably browse content-heavy websites and indulge in HD video streaming. Thankfully, voice calls and video chat apps are blocked.
However, when few people are connected, even the free service can reach those rates: Executive Traveller recently clocked Virgin Australia's free WiFi at 11.5Mbps down and 12.6Mbps up on a mid-morning Melbourne-Launceston flight.
Speeds can drop when switching between satellites or reaching the edge of the coverage zone, especially on overseas flights.
Here are the Executive Traveller reviews for Virgin Australia's domestic (Boeing 737) WiFi and Virgin Australia's international (Boeing 777) WiFi.
How do I book a flight with Virgin Australia WiFi?
All Virgin Australia flights from Australia to Los Angeles and destinations in New Zealand should have inflight WiFi connectivity.
Domestic and other short-range international flights offer a very good chance of WiFi, although there's no way to know for sure at the time of booking.
When it's three days to departure, you can Virgin Australia's Flight Status website to see if your upcoming flight will have WiFi (use the 'Flight Route' or 'Port' buttons).
Of course, last-minute aircraft swaps do happen, so it's best to always factor in the chance you might not be able to get online. At the time of writing, the page also isn't correctly showing Airbus A330s which have recently been updated with WiFi.
Do I need the Virgin Australia App to use WiFi?
You don’t need to have the Virgin Australia App to use the onboard WiFi. You can connect directly to Virgin Australia's WiFi network from any compatible device in exactly the same way that you’d connect to a WiFi network at the airport, for example.
If you'd like to stream Virgin Australia's wireless inflight entertainment over the same network, then you'll need the Virgin Australia Entertainment App on your phone.
How do I connect to Virgin Australia WiFi?
Here are the steps to connect to Virgin Australia's inflight WiFi service:
- activate flight mode on your devices, then re-enable WiFi
- connect to the 'VirginAustralia' WiFi network
- bookmark the landing page (airborne.gogoinflight.com) so you can easily navigate back if needed
- choose which plan you'd like (free, 1 hour or full-flight depending on your journey)
- enter your email and payment details if required; the free WiFi service requires your seat number and surname
- within a minute you should be connected to your aircraft's hotspot and, in turn, Virgin Australia's sky-high satellite service
How does Virgin Australia WiFi work?
Virgin Australia's onboard internet works through tech provider Gogo and taps into a Gogo '2Ku band' satellite. This involves fitting two Ku-band antennas to the aircraft – one for downloads and one for uploads.
Domestic and New Zealand services use Optus' satellites for coverage, while Intelsat and SES satellite are used for all other international flights.
In contrast, Qantas uses a newer 'Ka-band' NBN Sky Muster satellite service for domestic coverage, offering fast and free WiFi for all passengers, although international WiFi isn't due until 2021.