Internet Onboard: How much does it cost?
Airplanes stayed for a long time pretty much the only place where we could and would disconnect from the outside world. No notifications, no instant messages, good excuses for not to respond to e-mails, but also great opportunities to do some quality, uninterrupted work if your seat and the elbow and leg-space allowed. But this has changed fast. Inflight wi-fi is now becoming a standard offering in many flights. While may still cost a bit of money for an hour of connectivity, usually running around in $10-15 range for most airlines, it’s not a surprise to your mother anymore that you are posting on Instagram from 30.000 ft above the ocean, or is expected by your client that you should not be missing a team call on Google Hangouts. Inflight wi-fi, or internet in flights, is becoming a commodity.
1. this research is focusing on European and Asian airlines. Our detailed deep-dive on US, South America and African airlines is on the way!
2. The prices and information are accurate based on best-of-our-knowledge at the time we did this research (September 2018) and are prone to change. We’ve provided links to Airlines’ relevant website where possible, so that you can get the most up-to-date information.
Airlines that offer free Inflight Wi-fi
You’ve always wondered “Which airlines offer free internet on-board?” or “Will my long-haul flight have internet?”
Let’s face it. It’s never free. It will be somehow embedded in the ticket price, or will be provided as a perk from your shiny loyalty card, if you have one, or is included in the price of your home internet. But never mind, you get the point. We’ve searched for those airlines that don’t ask you to pay extra for your inflight wi-fi.
Their motto is “Being in the sky shouldn’t mean being out of touch. Or bored. Or behind“. Norwegian ASA offers free inflight wi-fi WiFi on most of their flights in Europe and on flights between the U.S. and the Caribbean. After all, you rely on being online when you’re on the ground, and if this is absolutely needed if you are a location-independent, “Why should it be any different when you fly?“, Our kudos to Norwegian Air Shuttle.
Air China is supposedly providing free internet in all domestic flights, with a limitation to connect only laptops but not smartphones. This has been mentioned in many travel websites as a perk of Air China, however we could not confirm it through Air China’s own website. So, better to ask them directly, but will still include them here as an airline with free internet onboard with a pinch of salt.
For Finnair Plus Platinum members the inflight wi-fi is complimentary for the whole flight. Business Class passengers, Economy Comfort passengers and Finnair Plus Gold members can enjoy complimentary internet access for one hour straight any time during the flight. Otherwise, one hour cost $6, and 24-hours is $18.
They are currently offering free internet to a limited number of passengers (up to 50) on each flight. Passengers will receive in-flight Internet services to the value of CNY 258 if they apply on the official China Eastern Airlines website or app prior to the flight.
First and Business class passengers enjoy free internet onboard, though internet access is limited to selected aircraft and routes. Economy class passengers need to apply online, prior to the flight, to experience the free internet in the flight. For each flight, only the first 10 applicants will be able to enjoy the internet connection.
They offer free internet during the flight for up to 20MB of free Wi-Fi within the first two hours of log-in across all devices for all passengers, whereas Emirates Skywards members can enjoy either free Wi-Fi or discounted data plans:
- Blue, Silver, Gold, Platinum members Business class: free, unlimited
- Gold, Platinum members economy class: free, unlimited
- Silver members economy class: $4.99 for 150 mb $7.99 for 500 mb
- Blue members economy class: $6.99 for 150 mb $10.99 for 500 mb
- Non Emirates Skywards members: $9.99 for 150 mb $15.99 for 500 mb
15 minutes free internet connection on all Airbus fleets equipped with in-flight connectivity is provided to all passengers. First Class passengers enjoy free unlimited internet during the flight. For all other passengers, 30 minutes connection will cost $5 (limited to 15mb) and 3 Hours $16.95 (limited to 50 mb).
Icelandair offers internet connection door-to-door: Wi-Fi is available to across their fleet of Boeing 757 aircrafts, from the moment you step on the plane, until you are back in the airport. This is free for passengers flying Saga Premium and Saga Premium Flex, as well as Saga Gold members for up to two devices. The connection is equivalent of a 3G connection on the ground. Wi-Fi is available on every flight, but some areas in North America are outside of the coverage area. Passengers on Economy can get access to the Wi-Fi for as low as €4 for Iceland-Europe flights, and €9.7 for Iceland-North America flights.
Philippine Airlines offers just 15 mins, or 5 MB, of free inflight wi-fi (or 30 minutes , or 15MB on some flights). It won’t get you do much of work, but is absolutely better than nothing. From there on, prices start from $5 for 35 MB and $20 for 150MB. This is quite steep compared to other airlines in our opinion.
Turkish Airlines is very generous to their guests flying in Business Class and for their Miles & Smiles Elite and Elite Plus members, who can enjoy free wi-fi throughout the fly. And based on our personal experience, this is quite fast connectivity. For other passengers, prices are $9.99 per hour, and $14.99 for 24-hours.
WiFi is free for EuroBonus Gold and Diamond members and for travelers in SAS Plus and SAS Business. Travelers in SAS Go have the option to connect to their inflight wi-fi for a fee of 49 SEK (6 EUR) for an hour, or 149 SEK (15 EUR) for the whole flight.
Suites, First and Business Class passengers and PPS Club members can enjoy one complimentary WiFi session per flight (limited to Suites/ First Class Passengers 100MB, Business Class Passengers/ PPS Club Members 30MB), For all other passengers, the price plans vary depending on the aircraft type but are not disclosed on their website.
Airlines that offer paid Internet on-board
Internet is available on-board on their A330 and B777 aircraft, and the internet service is provided by Sitaonair, where the cost depends on both the type of aircraft and the data-package. The costs are $5 for 15 minutes (limited to 10 mb) and $40 for 3 hours (limited to 100 mb) where every exceeded 1 МB will put you down a $ 1. For more detailed pricing, check here.
Various packages are offered per what you want to stay connected for. Chats Plan (3MB) offers the use of WhatsApp, WeChat, LINE, KakaoTalk and Viber only, and comes with a price of 9 MYR ($2.20). Whereas, you can buy up to 50MB for lightweight Internet usage, which excludes video streaming and app store downloads for 68 MYR (~$16)
AirEurope has various price brackets based on total data usage, and on-board internet is available only on selected aircraft.
- Basic package (30mb): 6 euro for domestics and europe 7 euro for long haul (only message and email)
- Popular package (60 mb): 10 euro for domestics and europe 13 euro for long haul (only message, email and web browsing)
- Premium package (100mb): 15 euro for domestics and europe 20 euro for long haul (only message, email, web browsing and social media)
They offer free wi-fi only to First Class Passengers. All other passengers can purchase internet packages that start from $4.95 (for 15MB) going up to $16.95 for 3-hours.
The price for on-board internet in Alitalia depends on the data package, and starts from $2 for 10 mb, $6 for 50 mb, $12 for 90 mb, $20 for 200 mb.
Their inflight wi-fi is limited to A350 aircraft only. You may purchase your internet access through your mobile phone or device, after boarding the A350 for 1 hour at $11.95, for 3 hours at $16.95 and unlimited use for $21.95
They have a simple pricing structure for their internet onboard: 25MB for $5 and 50MB for $10.
They offer free internet limited to their own website and various partner websites. For all other internet needs during the flight, it starts from $9.95/hour or a fixed rate of 12.95 for flights up to 6 hours, or $19.95 for flights above 6 hours.
Etihad provides free inflight internet to their First Class passengers for up to 90MB. Otherwise, internet connection above the clouds will set you back $4.95 for 30MB, 90MB for $11.95 and 180MB for $19.95.
EVA Air offers inflight Wi-Fi for all cabin classes onboard 777-300ER and A330-300aircraft. You can pre-purchase EVA Wi-Fi vouchers online through the EVA Air website to get a discount. 1-hour for $11.95 (discounted $11.35), 3-hour for $16.95 (discounted $16.10) and 24-hour for $21.95 (discounted $20.85)
They offer internet onboard with prices starting from $10.15 per hour, with an option to purchase a flight-plan that will be valid up to 24 hours for $18.80. Their JALCARD holders get around 10% discount from these prices. There is no data limit on the inflight wi-fi packages.
You can use WiFi on all of their brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliners and on 1 of their Boeing 777-300 aircraft. If the aircraft is equipped with WiFi, you can simply go to onboard.klm.com during the flight, and purchase the internet voucher. We could not access the price information for the vouchers.
They offer various connectivity options for your exact need via their provider FlyNet. You may just opt-in for messaging, or for full streaming. On short-haul and medium-haul routes the FlyNet prices are €3 (~$3.50 USD) or 1,000 miles for FlyNet Message; €7 (~$8 USD) or 2,300 miles for FlyNet Surf; and €12 (~$14 USD) or 4,000 miles for FlyNet Stream.
They provide wi-fi only on the A350 aircraft, and offering 3 internet packages:
- Lite: $2 for 10 mb (For instant messaging only)
- Social: $10 for 50 mb (Best suited for instant messaging and for use with apps.)
- Business: $25 for 200 mb (Heavy video streaming not encouraged)
They are offering paid internet throughout most of their flights. But the prices are not disclosed publicly.
TAP was one of the first airlines to offer onboard Internet. The OnAir Wi-Fi Internet system is currently available on TAP’s routes between Europe and North and South America, on board its A330 fleet (the aircraft Pedro Nunes, Vasco da Gama, João XXI, João Gonçalves Zarco and Fernão de Magalhães). The prices start from: 4 MB – $4,99 and go up to $45 for 50 MB.
THAI in-flight Wi-Fi internet service is available on Airbus A380-800, A350-900, selected A330-330 and Boeing 787, with prices starting from $4.99 for 10MB up to $39.99 for unlimited. Do check their own site for accurate pricing, as the price depends on Aircraft and Internet service provider (SITAONAIR or Panasonic)
Airlines that do not offer ANY Inflight Wi-fi
Here’s the list of the airlines that do not offer any internet on-board, per our research. As a general tendency, low-cost airlines do not have internet onboard, as well as those national carriers who are usually flying low-distance routes. We’ll happily update the information here, when we have information conforming otherwise:
Adria Airways: All passengers on Adria Airways aircraft have access to the Adria OnAir Entertainment portal. While this is Wi-fi-based, it’s only for onboard entertainment without internet access.
Air India: While there has been several announcements on the internet that Air India will start offering free wifi in selected flights, all these announcements are past dated, and we could not find sufficient information confirming they actually do provide any internet on-board at all.
GOAir: GoAir is the leading Indian Airlines offering the lowest, cheapest fares for flight tickets.
JetAir: While they do have wi-fi onboard, it’s limited to in-flight streaming only, allowing users to access onboard movies, music and games on their personal devices by connecting to onboard WiFi.
TAROM Airlines: TAROM has on-board Wi-fi, but this is only for on-board entertainment. There is no external, internet acces.
Volotea: They are a low-cost airline operating out of Venice, Italy. They do not offer any internet on-board.
Inflight internet is still priced at rates that many would consider as “high”, and even “stupidly high” if we do the math on the $-per-MB or $-per-hour prices. This is driven in part by the high cost of connectivity at above 10.000 ft as well as in part by airlines pricing policies. If you want to stay connected, you do not have any other option at that point in time and space, but to purchase it at whatever price tag the airline has put.
I think this will change, as it changed drastically for in-room internet prices at hotels.
It will change because airlines have very little to create differentiation points at the moment, and “free wifi onboard” will very well be a good differentiator. Also, as mobile phones are being allowed in most flights, the operators will find ways to enter the competition. Remember how much you were paying for internet roaming just a year ago? 3 years ago? Today, except for few countries and geographies, you can have connectivity at very affordable rates almost anywhere. This will be valid for the flights too. It will change, because its actually usually 3rd party service provides who provide you the inflight wifi experience. The competition among them to sell packages both inflight and off-flight will help decrease the prices.
Enjoy being Always-On!
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