Inflight Internet in Australian skies is becoming less so a novelty than an expectation of high flying business travellers, with more and more airlines powering up their satellite links to make sky-high surfing a modern reality.
Among the current ranks are Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways and Emirates, with Qantas to launch free inflight Internet aboard its domestic Airbus A330 and Boeing 737 aircraft by the year's end.
While some travellers look forward to ‘zoning out’ at 35,000 feet, others prefer to keep in touch with happenings back at the office or with their loved ones – an easy task when inflight WiFi is at hand.
If you’re the type to stay connected in the air, here’s where you’ll find WiFi aboard flights from Australia.
Australian routes: Sydney to Los Angeles
Aircraft type: Boeing 777-300ER
What it costs: US$12 for two hours, US$17 for four hours or US$19 for the entire flight.
X-Factor: Plans to suit quick surfing sessions and flight-long work, without any data limits.
AusBT review: American Airlines Boeing 777 inflight Internet
ANA (All Nippon Airways)
Australian routes: Sydney to Tokyo Haneda
Aircraft type: Boeing 787-9
What it costs: US$6.95 for 30 minutes, US$16.95 for three hours or US$21.95 for the entire flight, which also covers you on any Boeing 787 connecting flight with ANA where WiFi is available.
X-Factor: With no data limits, you're free to download as much as you please within the time period covered by your plan.
Australian routes: Sydney to Manila
Aircraft type: Airbus A330-300
What it costs: US$5 for one hour, US$10 for three hours or US$12 for the entire flight.
X-Factor: Significantly less expensive than Philippine Airlines' inflight Internet service on the same route.
China Southern Airlines
Australian routes: Sydney to Guangzhou
Aircraft type: Airbus A330 (flights CZ301/302, CZ325/326 only)
What it costs: Currently free as part of a trial, open to all business and first class passengers and also the first 10 economy flyers who register on each flight, which needs to be done via the China Southern website before travel, not in the air.
X-Factor: The only Chinese airline flying to Australia to offer inflight Internet, at least until the trial concludes on October 29 2016.
Australian routes: All non-stop flights between Dubai and Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth; selected services across the Tasman and one-stop flights from Australia to Dubai via Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.
Aircraft types: Airbus A380 (all flights), Boeing 777 (most aircraft)
What it costs: 10MB at no charge, US$1 per additional 500MB or part thereof.
X-Factor: Complete your obligatory social media check-in at 35,000 feet without paying a cent, and pay just a dollar to continue working or browsing Facebook.
AusBT review: Emirates' inflight Internet for Airbus A380, Boeing 777
Australian routes: All flights between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane
Aircraft types: Airbus A380, Boeing 777 and Boeing 787
What it costs: US$11.95 for two hours, US$17.95 for four hours and US$21.95 for 24 hours, including onward access on any connecting Etihad flights.
X-Factor: A single 24-hour pass covers you from Australia right through to London and other destinations across Europe and the Middle East, even if you switch between aircraft types.
Read our review: Etihad inflight Internet
Australian routes: Sydney and Melbourne to Jakarta and Denpasar (Bali), Perth to Denpasar
Aircraft types: Airbus A330-200/300
What it costs: US$9.95 for 10MB or US$21.95 for 25MB on laptops, and US$2.49/US$9.95 for 3MB and 10MB on smartphones, respectively.
Some of Garuda's A330s have also been transitioned to a new system, which charges US$11.95 for 30MB/one hour, US$16.95 for 50MB/three hours and US$21.95 for the entire flight or 100MB (whichever comes first).
X-Factor: Paying ~$1/MB isn’t great, but could well be the same or better as you’d pay for global roaming on the ground.
Australian routes: Sydney to Tokyo Narita
Aircraft type: Boeing 777-300ER
What it costs: US$10.15 for one hour or US$18.80 for the entire flight, plus any onward international JAL connections where Sky Wi-Fi is available. Free for business and first class passengers:
X-Factor: Travellers at the pointy end receive an access card for free browsing, and if you have two devices such as a smartphone and a laptop or tablet, just ask for a second card.
Read our review: Japan Airlines’ Sky Wi-Fi
Australian routes: Perth to Kuala Lumpur
Aircraft type: Boeing 737-900ER (selected aircraft)
What it costs: US$6.95 for 20MB/30 minutes, US$11.95 for 60MB/one hour, US$16.95 for 80MB/three hours, US$21.95 for 100MB/12 hours (whichever comes first).
X-Factor: Malindo Air is the only airline to offer inflight WiFi on the Perth-KL route.
Australian routes: Sydney and Melbourne to Manila
Aircraft type: Airbus A330-300 (selected aircraft)
What it costs: 15MB/30 minutes: free, then US$10 for 35MB/one hour or US$40 for 150MB or the entire flight (whichever comes first). Philippine Airlines' Million Miler frequent flyers can select the 150MB/entire flight option at no charge.
X-Factor: Don’t want to enter your credit card information online? Easy – WiFi access cards can also be purchased directly from the crew.
Australian routes: Adelaide to Doha, plus Sydney-Doha from September
Aircraft types: Airbus A350, A380
What it costs: 10MB/15 minutes: free, 30MB/one hour: US$5, 100MB/three hours: US$10, 200MB/duration of the flight: US$20
X-Factor: Surf for up to 15 minutes (or download 10MB) for free per device, allowing you to assess whether the connection is fast enough for your needs before paying for a higher plan.
Australian routes: All flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Queensland's Gold Coast to Singapore
Aircraft type: Boeing 787-9
What it costs: US$11.95 for an hour, US$16.95 for three hours and US$21.95 for the entire flight.
X-Factor: Buy the 'entire flight' plan and continue to browse on any connecting Scoot Boeing 787 flight at no further cost.
AusBT review: Scoot Boeing 787 Dreamliner inflight Internet
Australian routes: Sydney and Melbourne to Singapore
Aircraft types: Airbus A350, A380 and Boeing 777-300ER
What it costs: Where OnAir is the provider (all A380s and some Boeing 777 flights), US$14.99 for 15MB of data or US$28.99 for 30MB on laptops and US$5.99 and US$9.99 for 5MB and 10MB, respectively, on smartphones.
On newer Boeing 777-300ERs with Panasonic eXConnect and Airbus A350 aircraft, prices start at US$11.95 for one hour up to US$21.95 for the entire flight.
X-Factor: Pay less to surf if you’re only browsing from a handheld gadget.
Read our review: Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 inflight Internet
Australian routes: Melbourne to Bangkok (from September 2016)
Aircraft type: Airbus A350
What it costs: Free access for business class passengers, with paid options for economy travellers to be announced.
(Thai Airways currently charges US$4.50 for 3MB and US$14.50 for 10MB on its Airbus A340 and A380 flights when using a smartphone and US$14.50 for 10MB or US$28.50 for 20MB when using a tablet or laptop.)
Australian routes: All flights between Los Angeles and Sydney and Melbourne, plus between Sydney and San Francisco
Aircraft types: Boeing 787-9
What it costs: US$16.99 for unlimited access throughout the flight when departing from Australia, and US$19.99 for the same when returning from the US.
X-Factor: Keep tabs on your flight, your arrival time and the weather at your destination via the WiFi portal at no charge.
AusBT review: United Wi-Fi Boeing 737, 757, 787 inflight Internet
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