WiFi: What is available on Australian domestic flights
Connectivity is becoming more and more important while travelling. With many applications moving to the Cloud, it is increasingly difficult to perform computer-based tasks without access to the internet. Domestic airlines are responding to this need, providing WiFi access to the internet on domestic flights. However, some are not.
In a mirroring of the introduction of WiFi in hotel rooms more than a decade ago, some airlines charge additional fees, while others make the service complimentary.
Below is the state of play regarding WiFi on domestic flights by Australian-based carriers as of November 2023.
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Well, there is, and there isn’t. Bonza has WiFi so you can use their inflight app, access their entertainment service, and order items off the Bonza food and beverage menu. However, you can’t access the internet or internet-based services like social networks, text, etc. So, the answer really is, no, they don’t have WiFi.
There is now free Wi-Fi available on all Qantas domestic flights.
WiFi is being rolled out for international flights, initially on A330-200D and Boeing B737-800 WiFi-equipped flights. But don’t count on it. You are most likely to find WiFi on services to Bali, Jakarta, Manila and Singapore. But is limited to while over Australia. Sky Muster, an offshoot of NBN is the provider.
You won’t get WiFi on QantasLink flights
REX (Regional EXpress)
YES, REX does provide WiFi, but only on some of the Boeing 737s it uses to service its inter-capital city services and only if you pay. The service allows general internet access as well as access to the airline’s entertainment streams.
REX uses the Intelsat2Ku system, with delivery speeds equivalent to home broadband connection speeds of up to 15Mps.
There are a couple of packages to choose from, including the ‘basic’, suitable for browsing, email, social media and texting @ AU$6.50 for 30 minutes or AU$10 for whole-of-flight. There is a faster package for AU$ 9.75 for 30 mins or AU$15 for the flight. With most intra-city flights being more than an hour – the flight package is the way to go.
Virgin has commenced rolling out WiFi across its fleet of Boeing 737s. It should be fleet-wide by the middle of 2024. Whether you will be charged depends on your status and class of travel. The service is free for Platinum Velocity frequent flyers and those travelling in Business Class. For non-Platinums in Economy, just like REX, you will be charged for use, but the rates are different, being AU$10 for a half hour or AU$20 for the flight.
I get a sense of deja vu when it comes to onboard WiFi. It takes me back to the days when you had to cart around internet connection cables to use in hotels. In choosing your booked accommodation, you would partially use the cost of WiFi connections at hotels as your selection criterion.
Those were the days!
I hope satellite technology catches up with people’s demand for flight connectivity, and look forward to the time when fast free WiFi on ‘full service’ airlines can be taken for granted.