Qantas pulls plug on in-flight Wi-Fi

Qantas has decided not to go ahead with in-flight Wi-Fi following a nine-month trial of the service, citing disappointing uptake of online access by its passengers on the selected test routes.

Qantas has decided not to go ahead with in-flight Wi-Fi following a nine-month trial of the service, citing disappointing uptake of online access by its passengers on the selected test routes.

(Credit: Qantas)

Internet access had been available on selected services between Australia and London and Los Angeles in its A380 aircraft. Qantas told Australian Business Traveller (ABT) that fewer customers than anticipated used the service. It observed that customers on overnight flights prefer to sleep, and that because the majority of the A380 services operate overnight, the satellite internet option was not as popular as the airline had hoped.

According to Qantas estimations, only about 5 per cent of its passengers on these overnight flights used the internet.

Qantas had offered the internet to passengers for free when the service was first trialled in March this year, for up to 35MB of data. Since then, pricing ranged from AU$12.90 to AU$39. The service was slow, according to the users who spoke with ABT, and suitable only for text-based content, like Facebook chatting and email.

This is certainly a shame, but it does sound like the technology isn't really ready for public consumption. AU$40 is a lot to pay to check Facebook status updates, and the number of people for whom email access is a business critical necessity probably does sit at about 5 per cent of a plane-load of passengers.

Virgin Australia is expected to begin trials of in-flight Wi-Fi next month, with free access for customers using their own tablets, laptops and phones. Hopefully, the internet is a tad faster on the Virgin fleet.

What do you think about in-flight Wi-Fi? How much would you pay and how much data do you think you'd need? What applications would you use?

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