05 June, 2018

In-flight WiFi is the new revenue stream, even for low-cost airlines. The cost of inflight WiFi

It seems hardly a week goes by these days without some airline somewhere in the world saying that they are bringing in-flight wifi to their fleet.  The last few weeks no exception with one of the latest airlines to tell the world about its future sky-high connectivity plans being the ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines in the USA. 

Recently the airline announced it has signed a deal with the Thales Group to introduce Wi-Fi on all of its planes by summer 2019, claiming to be will also become the first ultra-low-cost carrier in the Americas to offer Wi-Fi. 

“We’re thrilled to enhance the in-flight Guest experience with the addition of new-generation Wi-Fi,” said Ted Christie, Spirit Airline’s President. “By next summer, every plane in our fleet should be fully equipped to keep our Guests connected in the skies. It’s just one of the many investments we’ve made and will continue to make for our Guests.”  Of course, Ted's pleased with Spirit charging an average price of $6.50 for high-speed web browsing and streaming depending on route and demand, it represents a big revenue stream for the airline. 

Many other airlines, including low-cost ones, have already or are planning to introduce wifi capabilities to their aircraft as they hunt for even more of our pounds, dollars or euros.  Here's a brief example of airlines offering wifi onboard and some of the sky-high fees for connecting to the net at 10,000 feet and above!

Aeroflot, the leading Russian airline offers wifi service on its Airbus A330 and Boeing 777 aircraft. The prices start at $5 (£3.75) for 5 minutes to $50 (£37.37) for the whole flight (A330 prices). However, they do have a data limit for there plans, which is a maximum of 150MB's and if you go over that then expect a $1 per MB, which could mean hefty bills at the end of the flight, so make sure you turn off automatic software update downloads. 

Air Asia have plans from RM9 that's £1.68 or $2.28 for just 3MB of data, which won't get you very far, which is perhaps why the average spend is around RM60 per wifi using passenger, that's a whopping $15.19 or £11.21.

Air Canada has a small number of aircraft fitted with wifi which is arranged with GoGo and prices CAD$6.50 for an hour, CAD$21 for the whole one-way flight or if you travel a lot, a monthly pass at CAD$65.95.

Air France have wifi enabled on the fleet of 787 aircraft and prices depend on the amount of data you wish to use, either 20 MB, 50 MB or 200 MB.  Wifi is also being fitted to some of the carriers other long to medium haul fleet.

Air New Zealand is introducing wifi on its aircraft but is very secretive when it comes to pricing, only advising how much it will cost when actually connecting to the portal. Reviews have been mixed after some security issues were found with their system. 

American Airlines has wifi enabled on most of its aircraft and rates range from $10 (£7.47), with other plans available such as the monthly plan at $49.95 (£37.34).

British Airways offer wifi on many of its aircraft now with prices starting from £4.99 /$6.76 per hour for basic surfing. If you want to stream your favourite film or tv show, then that starts at £7.99 / $10.82 an hour.

Cathay Pacific have wifi on the carriers new A350's and are priced at $12.95 / £9.62 for flights of 6 hours or less, $19.95 / £14.73 for flights longer than 6 hours.

China Southern offer free wifi access on many of its international and a few domestic routes, however, it may be limited in terms of numbers of people connecting to it, therefore economy passengers may need to apply a day or so in advance via the website.

China Eastern is another carrier that offers free wifi, however, it is limited to 100 passengers per flight, on a first come first served basis and they also offer a way to apply for access in advance on the website.

Delta has KU wifi on a number of aircraft, including A330's, 767-300's, 767-400's, 777-200's and some of the 757's with prices from around $16.00 / £11.96 with monthly and annual passes available at a rate of $600!

Finnair offers wifi on its lovely new A350 aircraft with its Nordic Sky entertainment system, prices range depending on the route but start at €2 (£1.75) and go up to €20 (£17.50) or they offer the option to pay with points (2000 - 5000). If you are in business class, you also benefit of up to an hour's free access, which could be very useful. 

Garuda Indonesia have wifi on most of the Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A330-200/300 fleet and the prices start at $5 for 30 minutes or 15MB on an Airbus, then $11.95 for an hour, $16.95 for 3 hours and $21.95 for the whole of the flight.

Hong Kong Airlines has wifi on Airbus A350 aircraft and prices range depending on the route and data used.

Icelandair offer wifi on all their aircraft now, which makes them a great choice from Europe to the US via Iceland. The price varies depending on the route, however, starts from around €6 that's around £5.30 or $7.18.

KLM says that at the moment, you can use wifi on all of the brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliners in the fleet and on 1 of its Boeing 777-300 aircraft. Prices are advised when logging on to the portal and depend on route.

Lufthansa offers a number of wifi options on many of its flights with its FlyNet option, European and short-haul surf option starts at €7 (£6.18 / $8.37) or 2,300 miles. Long-haul is from €9 (£7.95/$10) or 3,000 miles, up to €17 (£15 / $19) full flight or 5,500 miles.

Malaysia Airlines have introduced wifi on the Airbus A350 and price plans range from $1 to $20 depending on how many MB's you want to use. 

One of the leading low-cost airlines, Norwegian, offers free wifi on almost all of its European flights, although this connectivity isn't available on the long-haul routes as of yet.

Qatar Airways offers wifi on all A380, A350, B787, and select A320, A321, and A330-200 aircraft. The airline has different price plans depending on the aircraft you are flying or the type of device you are using.

Qantas is among the few airlines currently offering free in-flight wifi connections on some of their aircraft.

SAS, has wifi on board the long-haul fleet which also feature the carriers new cabin design, it also has wifi on board ten Boeing 737-800 aircraft that fly within Europe. Rates for euro start at €6 (£5.25) and outside Europe from €15 (£13.13).

Scoot, the low-cost airline from Singapore Airlines have various plans for raking in the cash from passengers wishing to stay connected on their 787's, they range from $5.99 to $65.99 (£4.42 to £48.72).