ONLY A FEW AIR­LINES OF­FER FREE WI-FI

Frequent Flyer Destinations - - VOYAGER - By Aram Ge­sar

In­flight Wi-Fi ac­cess is more pop­u­lar than ever, and air­lines have re­sponded to the de­mand by ex­pand­ing and im­prov­ing ser­vice across their fleets. Most air­lines of­fer a num­ber of dif­fer­ent ser­vice plans at var­i­ous price points, but of course the price point ev­ery­one re­ally wants is free.

Only eleven air­lines of­fer free Wi-Fi. Seven are transat­lantic, four tran­spa­cific, and none low-cost. Nor­we­gian Air has an­nounced it will be­come the first low-cost air­line to of­fer free Wi-Fi to all pas­sen­gers on its transat­lantic flights within a year even as a dis­pute over the fu­ture of air­line in­ter­net ac­cess heats up.

The com­pany is the big­gest low-cost Euro­pean air­line across the At­lantic, of­fer­ing $99 (£77) sin­gle flights from Lon­don to New York. Now it plans to equip its fleet of Boe­ing 787 Dream­liner and

737 Max air­craft with Wi-Fi. The ex­act terms of the ser­vice are not yet known, but Skype and Net­flix are un­likely to be ac­ces­si­ble.

A spokesman for Nor­we­gian said: “We were the first to launch free Wi-Fi in Europe and the first to have it fleetwide for short­haul.”

JetBlue was the first air­line to pro­vide free, high-speed Wi-Fi on all flights, but it only flies in North Amer­ica and the Caribbean.

Free Wi-Fi from the mo­ment you board to the mo­ment you land is a rare treat in­deed. Here is a global view of who do of­fer it:

NORTH AMER­I­CAN AIR­LINES

JetBlue Air­ways: Ba­sic ser­vice is free, and pre­mium ser­vice is $9 per hour. The ser­vice, which JetBlue calls “Fly-Fi,” is pro­vided by Vi­aSat and should of­fer plenty of band­width for var­i­ous in­ter­net tasks, in­clud­ing streaming video.

EURO­PEAN AIR­LINES

Nor­we­gian Air: Free ser­vice on flights within Europe and be­tween the US and Caribbean (no ser­vice on transat­lantic flights).

Fin­nair: Business Class pas­sen­gers and Fin­nair Plus Gold mem­bers can en­joy com­pli­men­tary in­ter­net ac­cess for one hour. For Fin­nair Plus Plat­inum mem­bers the ser­vice is com­pli­men­tary for the whole flight. Aer Lin­gus: WiFi is com­pli­men­tary for Business Class pas­sen­gers.

MID­DLE EAST­ERN AIR­LINES

Emi­rates Air­lines: The air­line of­fers 10MB of data free to all pas­sen­gers, and has ex­panded its free in-flight Wi-Fi ser­vices ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately to of­fer un­lim­ited data for all Sky­wards Plat­inum and Gold mem­bers re­gard­less of their class of travel. Mean­while, econ­omy class cus­tomers and non-Sky­wards mem­bers will be of­fered 20MB of free data us­age within the first two hours of log­ging. Ad­di­tional data can be pur­chased in 150MB or 500MB blocks, with dis­counts for Sky­wards Sil­ver and Blue mem­bers. Ex­tra 500MB for $1 on Air­bus A380 air­craft. Qatar Air­ways: Free for the first 15 min­utes, then $5 for one hour or $10 for three hours. On longer flights, pas­sen­gers can ac­cess Wi-Fi for the du­ra­tion of the trip for a flat fee of $20. Eti­had Air­ways: Pas­sen­gers on flights to the US will re­ceive Wi-Fi vouch­ers from cabin crews with the on­board wel­come drink. These vouch­ers will pro­vide free WiFi for the du­ra­tion of the flight.

Turk­ish Air­lines: Wi-Fi is com­pli­men­tary for Business Class pas­sen­gers, and for Econ­omy Class pas­sen­gers who are mem­bers of its Elite or Elite Plus re­wards pro­gram. The air­line said it was work­ing on rolling out a sys­tem to al­low pas­sen­gers to use 3G data roam­ing on mo­bile phones to con­nect to the in­ter­net in-flight, and planned to make Wi-Fi freely avail­able on their Boe­ing 777 and Air­bus 330 air­craft in April 2017.

ASIAN AIR­LINES

Philip­pine Air­lines: The air­line of­fers 30 min­utes of free in­flight Wi-Fi across all cabin classes.

Air China: The air­line of­fers free down­load speeds of up to 30Mbps, but the ser­vice is only avail­able on do­mes­tic flights and can only be used on a tablet or lap­top – not a smart­phone.

China East­ern: The air­line of­fers free Wi-Fi but pas­sen­gers are lim­ited to 258 yuan worth of use on both do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional flights.

Nok Air: The air­line of­fers free Wi-Fi for the du­ra­tion of the flight, although it is only avail­able on a small num­ber of air­craft.

And you might be sur­prised to learn there are ac­tu­ally a num­ber of dif­fer­ent ways to get no-cost Wi-Fi ser­vice. While Gogo is the largest Wi-Fi provider, there are ac­tu­ally four dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies — Gogo, Pana­sonic, Vi­aSat and Row44 — spe­cial­iz­ing in in­flight Wi-Fi. Dif­fer­ent air­lines and even dif­fer­ent air­craft can use a va­ri­ety of these com­pa­nies, es­pe­cially for in­ter­na­tional flights, so you can end up on a flight in which one or more of these op­tions aren’t avail­able to you.

If your cell phone ser­vice is through T-Mo­bile, you al­ready have one free hour of Gogo Wi-Fi on ev­ery flight you take just for be­ing a T-Mo­bile cus­tomer, plus un­lim­ited tex­ting through in­ter­net-based mes­sag­ing ser­vices such as iMes­sage or What­sApp and un­lim­ited ac­cess to Visual Voice­mail. Note that you must have a valid E911 ad­dress and you must make at least one Wi-Fi call with your SIM card in­stalled be­fore you fly. Then once you’re in the air, launch your browser and click the T-Mo­bile ban­ner on the start page, and you’ll be on­line.

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