Virgin polls travellers on inflight Internet pricing, usage

By David Flynn, March 28 2017

EXCLUSIVE | Virgin Australia appears to be moving closer to its promised launch of inflight Internet, with the airline now surveying travellers on pricing models – and how much influence these would have when choosing to fly with Virgin or Qantas.

Virgin has flagged a two-tier service with Basic and High Speed options.

In the survey the Basic connection is pitched at between $8 and $14 per flight and listed as being suitable for Web browsing, email and social media.

The High Speed alternative, which the poll posits at $15 to $21 per flight, boosts the bandwidth to cover streaming video from the likes of Netflix.

However, Virgin also allows that "on some flights the price could be free, or the first 30 minutes could be free."

Either way, travellers are promised an always-on experience which would be available "from when passengers board the aircraft, in the air and up until disembarking," with inflight Internet access "as fast and reliable as typical home connectivity."

The online survey asks users to consider WiFi access on Sydney-Melbourne and Sydney-Brisbane flights – two relatively short trips which none the less are Australia's two most popular routes.

The survey's many screens weigh up Internet pricing for both Qantas and Virgin against airfares, with Virgin between $5 and $25 cheaper than the same trip on Qantas.

Interestingly, many of the screens also indicate paid inflight Internet access on Qantas at both Basic and High Speed levels – despite Qantas' promises that its Qantas WiFi service will be free.

The poll also tries to assess how popular certain services such as online news, streaming video and messaging apps would be if Virgin's inflight Internet was free. 

The launch of Qantas WiFi is imminent, although the airline hastily cancelled this week's planned media test flight – which was to precede public availability – citing 'stability issues' with the signal from the NBN's Sky Muster satellite.

Approached by Australian Business Traveller for comment, a Virgin Australia spokesperson said "Virgin Australia is on track to begin introducing inflight wifi connectivity this year."

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.

05 May 2016

Total posts 526

Personally I wouldn't pay for this. They should provide this for free.

04 May 2015

Total posts 233

Virgin Australia still charges for soft drink in economy, just like Jetstar and Tiger. I wouldn't hold my breath for the internet to be free!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

26 Feb 2016

Total posts 101

Considering the bandwidth and the cost of satellite internet, it is actually better to change the passengers by the amount of data they used.  I haven't seen any free Wi-Fi service that is actually usable.

19 Sep 2015

Total posts 21

Jetblue over in the US works nicely

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

26 Feb 2016

Total posts 101

It goes a little geeky -- the US airlines use land-bases wireless communication for domestic flights, which uses signal beams between the aircraft and the land station to carry data. Because the distance is much shorter (ie, signal is much stronger) and the spectrum is much less congested, the land-based wireless system gives much much more bandwidth than satellites can give. However, as far as I know, Australia doesn't have such a system.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 210

a tad disingenuous to include a charge for wi-fi on any other QF options when QF have said it will be included in ticket price.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1136

Another reason why VA just isn't a full-service carrier like QF, despite its marketing efforts to position itself as one.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

26 Feb 2016

Total posts 101

No one likes charge but consider 400pax sharing a satellite link that has less than 10% of the bandwidth of an ADSL 2+ link. If no limit is applied, then no one can even open a webpage in the entire flight.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

I think AusBT trialled this a few weeks ago and said they barely had any interruption when the whole flight full of guinea pigs was chewing through data.

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 140

Yeah, the speed from SkyMuster is better than most people's ADSL connections (unless you live next door to the exchange and have brand new copper)

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 296

I don't think it's good marketing to charge for something a competitor gives away for free. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

09 Aug 2016

Total posts 3

It's VA.... they live for that type of stupidity

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 296

If Virgin offered basic speed for free and quarterly, 1/2 yearly or yearly fees for super fast internet I would probably pay the extra. Like their get a biscuit and coffee, the beer and sandwich is an extra cost.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 582

I think the best version of internet charging i've encountered is on newer SQ 77Ws where it's US$22 for the flight (or 24h, i cant remember).  Making it free would be inviting slow speeds due to most of the pax using it but by charging a reasonable nominal amount then it will probably put off at least 50% of the pax who would've otherwise used it had it been free, which leads to faster speeds for those who do decide to pay.

25 Feb 2013

Total posts 59

They should offer daily, monthly or annual plans like Gogo in the US. That's what I'd be really interested in. 

I'm all for 'free' wifi on QF, but I suspect their fares will be conveniently raised a similar amount. If VA opts out of price matching that 'convenient' QF wifi-induced increase (which they should if they have any sense) then their plan may help differentiate. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 224

Just really bad marketing to ask customers to consider overall cost when comparing products, if Virgin are assuming pax will note that QF is $10 on the overall fare so a $8 wi-fi fee will balance the ledger is really poor business, there are just too many variables.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 492

Could not agree more, GBRGB. Virgin just did Qantas a huge advertising favour by presenting and publicising a competitor's product.

A 'smart' marketeer would refer to the other product as a 'competitor' product. And let's not forget, while QF has specified that WiFi will be free on QF, there is not yet a policy on JQ WiFi - which in all probability would be a 'charge for' service in keeping with it's LCC philosophy.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 210

Not sure why you brought JQ into the mix, as the story is about VA surveying against QF. JQ is a different airline, even though it's in the QF group, so no comparison. The correct comparison would be QF with VA and JQ with TT

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 10

these days virgin and Qantas flights are much the same but the virgin so called snacks and refreshments are sub par so paying for domestic internet would not be a draw card for me, wireless is free just about everywhere these days so who would pay ? 

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 296

They should atleast upgrade to a Tuna Sandwich 

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