27 March 2015

Emirates gives passengers free or near-free in-flight Wi-Fi

Source: Emirates.
Emirates has free* Wi-Fi on 106 of its aircraft, with more aircraft offering Wi-Fi connectivity every month. On Emirates’ ultra long-haul flights, which it defines as flights of over 14 hours, over 30% of passengers typically use Wi-Fi services.

Wi-Fi service is already available on all of Emirates’ 59 Airbus A380 aircraft and 47 of its Boeing 777 aircraft. On over 60% of the installed fleet, the first 10MB data is free – sufficient for an update on social media accounts or texting via instant messaging apps. Thereafter, and for the rest of the fleet, users can enjoy 500MB of data for a token US$1 charge.

Besides offering Wi-Fi connectivity on all A380 flights, Emirates is in the process of adding Wi-Fi to all of its Boeing 777-300ERs and 777-200LRs at the rate of two to three aircraft per month.

“As a global connector of people and places, Emirates is committed to making our entire fleet Wi-Fi enabled. Customers seek free Wi-Fi on-the-go, especially while travelling, and it is becoming the norm for most people who want to stay connected through online social networks and instant messaging. Emirates is subsidising or waiving the high cost of buying data to serve our passengers on routes across six continents. We foresee that free Wi-Fi on board is the future standard for all our customers, something that will require no charge or limitations,” says Patrick Brannelly, Emirates' Divisional Vice President for Customer Experience (Inflight Entertainment & Connectivity).

In 2014, about 650,000 customers used Emirates’ Wi-Fi service on board and as of early March this year, more than 350,000 customers have already used the service.

According to the airline’s data, the websites its passengers most frequently access on board include Facebook and Google, and chat services such as Skype and WhatsApp, reflecting travellers’ strong desire to stay connected on the move and their use of social media channels to do so.

Passengers on board Emirates also have other ways to stay connected with personal mobile phones services offered on over 75% of the fleet, and in-seat email, telephone and SMS services on every aircraft. All of Emirates’ 37 dedicated airport lounges around its global network offer complimentary Wi-Fi connectivity.

*The first 10MB data is free. Users can enjoy an additional 500MB of data for a token US$1 charge. 
Due to current industrial technical limitations such as speed and bandwidth availability and the lack of advanced hardware and software support, the small token charge for additional data usage is required to keep the Wi-Fi service operational.