Emirates was one of the first airlines worldwide to make inflight WiFi widely accessible to travellers with enticing $1 plans, although the high number of users often reduced speeds to a snail's pace.
The carrier has since revamped its onboard internet offerings to offer a higher quality connection. But even if you don't want to pony up for a plan, there are still ways to keep in touch with colleagues or loved ones for free, onboard just about any Emirates flight.
This Executive Traveller guide to Emirates WiFi has all the information you need to stay up to date with the airline’s inflight internet service.
Does Emirates have inflight WiFi?
Yes, Emirates offers sky-high WiFi on practically every flight. Both complimentary access and paid plans are available.
Which Emirates flights have WiFi?
The whole Emirates fleet is outfitted with inflight internet. No matter whether you are travelling on an Airbus A380 or a Boeing 777, you should be able to browse online while at cruising altitude, bar any technical malfunctions or while flying over restricted zones.
How much does Emirates WiFi cost?
Emirates' paid WiFi plan costs vary depending on your Skywards membership tier, travel class and your route. As a guide, there are usually two base options available:
- 150MB for roughly A$14.75 (US$9.99)
- 500MB for roughly A$23.55 (US$15.99)
These rates are reduced for Emirates Skywards members who have their membership number printed on the boarding pass.
Does Emirates have free WiFi?
Yes, Emirates has two forms of free WiFi.
The first is available to all passengers – a choice of:
- 20MB over two hours, or
- Unlimited text messaging over two hours, covering WhatsApp, iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Viber Chat and WeChat mobile apps only.
The 20MB complimentary is per device, not per passenger, so there's room to double-dip if you had both a phone and laptop, for example.
The second offer is free, unlimited WiFi for the following Skywards frequent flyers:
- Business and first class passengers: Unlimited free WiFi for all Skywards members (Blue, Silver, Gold, Platinum)
- Economy passengers: Unlimited free WiFi for all Skywards Gold and Platinum members only
To take advantage of this offer, you must have your Skywards number linked to the booking before take-off. Onboard, you'll use your membership number and password to log-in.
This means can't credit the flight to other programs, such as to Qantas for earning points and status credits, if you also want to use the Skywards free unlimited WiFi perk onboard.
How fast is Emirates WiFi?
Emirates WiFi speed depends on various factors, the most significant being the number of users connected at one time. Executive Traveller previously ran speed tests onboard, but only managed to get downloads of 1.17 Mbps, uploads of 0.33 Mbps and a very high ping reading of 1003 ms. These speeds are okay for very light browsing, but not very useful for much else.
To help judge the current network load, Emirates handily shows the number of people currently connected. A green WiFi icon means speeds should be higher, while a red WiFi icon means speeds may suffer due to the number of people connected.
Onboard browsing speeds will also depend on the age of the plane, as older Airbus A380s have outdated satellite connections with less bandwidth than newer jets with Panasonic Ku-band connectivity.
Do I need the Emirates App to use WiFi?
No, WiFi access onboard is independent of the Emirates App.
How do I access Emirates WiFi?
- Turn your device into flight mode, then activate WiFi and connect to the OnAir network
- Either login as a Skywards member to see promotions and discounts, or continue as a guest
- If you're eligible for unlimited complimentary internet, that option will show up. Otherwise, use your 20MB complimentary allowance straight away
- For non-eligible guests, use a card to pay for a WiFi plan and continue browsing once your 20MB has run out
Does Emirates WiFi work during the whole flight?
Not exactly – while Emirates inflight internet will work during most of the flight, there are certain times where the connection won't be active:
- When the plane is under 10,000 feet (i.e. just after take-off or before landing)
- When flying over a restricted geographical location (for example, India)
Restricted zones vary per flight, and Emirates will provide a map of where your WiFi service won't work.
Can I use my Emirates WiFi allowance across separate flights?
No, Emirates WiFi plans are only valid per flight. For example, if you purchased a plan on EK405 from Melbourne to Singapore, that allowance would no longer be applicable on the second leg from Singapore to Dubai.
Can I use my Emirates WiFi allowance across separate devices?
Yes, paid WiFi plans are tied to your personal details. You can log on to a new device and continue your browsing session.