Words by Amy Dalgleish
Nowadays WiFi is available just about everywhere, fuelled by our increasing dependency and demand for it. Given the mass availability and expectation of constant connection, it was only a matter of time before the skies, once considered the final frontier of disconnection, are now joining the party.
Although still somewhat of a novelty, whether you prefer to zone out at 35,000 feet or would rather use the time to catch up on business, WiFi in the skies is slowly becoming an in-flight reality. If you want to surf sky high next time you take off, these are some of the current WiFi options available in the Australian skies.
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Staying Connected on International Flights
Flying in and out of Australia, you’ll be able to stay connected on some of the major international airlines including:
On direct Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Dubai routes on Airbus A380 and selected Boeing 777, Emirates offers the first 100MB free, and $1USD ($2AUD) for up to 600MB after that.
Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane to Abu Dhabi routes are now connected on Boeing 777, Airbus A330, Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 flights.The cost runs from $11.95US ($17AUD) for two hours up to $21.95USD ($31AUD) for 24 hours.
Connect to WiFi on Garuda onboard flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Jakarta and Denpasar, and Perth to Denpasar, on Airbus A330. The current WiFi cost is $9.95USD ($14AUD) for 10MB of data or $21.95USD ($31AUD) for 25MB, with smaller chapter plans available for smartphones.
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WiFi is available on Sydney & Melbourne to Manila routes on selected Airbus A330-300. Cost is $5USD ($6.96AUD) for 30 mins, and up to $40USD for the entire flight.
WiFi is available on Sydney and Melbourne to Singapore routes on Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300. The cost will run you $14.99USD ($21AUD) for 15MB or $28.99USD ($41AUD) for 30MB, with cheaper data options available for handheld connectivity only.
WiFi is currently available on United Airlines flights from Melbourne to LA, and selected services from Sydney to LA and San Francisco, on Boeing 787 and Boeing 777-200. Prices are low at just $17USD ($24 AUD) for unlimited WiFi for the duration of the flight.
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Domestic Connectivity – Coming To Skies Above You
Web access at 35,000 feet hasn’t been an option for Australian domestic travellers, despite onboard connectivity being available on domestic US flights for years. However, things are starting to shift in Australia and WiFi access is very much in the pipeline for Australian domestic flights.
Onboard web connectivity on Australian domestic flights hinges off technological developments from Telstra and the National Broadband Network to ensure in-flight WiFi that’s fast and affordable enough to make it worthwhile.
In the meantime, WiFi is creeping on to the domestic flight scene via localised entertainment systems accessible to your own handheld device. That doesn't mean you have to safely stow your mobile devices while flying. Quite the opposite as Aussie airlines embrace in-flight technology.
Here are the current gadget rules and entertainment options in Australian skies:
Q-streaming is available on selected domestic flights, allowing passenger access to a huge range of TV shows, movies and music. Download the Qantas Entertainment App to your smartphone or tablet before you fly, to access the on-demand entertainment options once onboard.
Personal devices can be used gate-to-gate, but must be switched to fight mode for travel and then WiFi activated to connect to the Q-Streaming network. If you don’t have your own device, Qantas supplies iPads on selected flights. Qantas is currently upgrading its fleet to provide Q-Streaming across all its B737 fleet in 2016.
Virgin is progressively rolling out wireless in-flight entertainment on all its domestic routes, and is currently available on Boeing 737-800 and Embraer E190 aircraft. Download Virgin Australia’s in-flight Entertainment App from the App Store or Google Play store to your smartphone or tablet prior to travelling.
Laptops and handheld devices can be used gate-to-gate. Once onboard your flight, switch your device to flight mode and you’ll be able to connect to the localised aircraft server to access hundreds of movies, TV shows and music.
Rent an entertainment device and headset to access a range of pre-filled movies and TV shows onboard Jetstar flights. If you have your own device, these can be used gate-to-gate but must be in flight mode during the journey.
Tiger does not currently have an in-flight entertainment program, but passengers can use their own electronic devices in flight-mode during the flight as long as they’re switched off during take-off and landing.