Let's start with the good news. You can now use in-flight Internet on any Emirates Airbus A380, including all flights to and from Australia, following the completion of a fleet-wide rollout by technology provider OnAir.
Travellers can now connect their smartphone, tablet or laptop to wireless hotspots dotted around all 21 of Emirates' superjumbos and tap into a satellite Internet service, with prices ranging from US$7.50 to US$25.
The cheapest plan gives you 5MB of data for US$7.50, and is mainly aimed at the BlackBerry set due to the Berry's highly-efficient email compression.
US$15 gets you a mobile plan with 25MB of data, which is better suited to iPhones and Android smartphones as well as casual tablet use.
The top US$25 plan is aimed at 'heavy users' wanting to chew up 100MB in flight on their laptop or tablet.
However, access isn't be bundled into first or even business class tickets – every passenger has to pay, even if you're perched in first class.
All future Emirates A380s – of which there are a massive 69 still on order – will also be kitted out for wireless Internet.
Emirates and OnAir have shared some interesting stats regarding sky-high surfing.
- 52% of people logging onto Emirates' in-flight Internet do so with a smartphone, while 48% use a tablet or laptop
- average data consumption per user is slightly below 20MB
- the bulk of usage is focused on social media, news and travel related sites (such as hotel, taxi and restaurant bookings)
- passengers typically use the Internet during the first half of the flight
- the time of the flight has a significant impact, with 73% of usage being during the daytime
- the length of the flight also has an impact, with 84% of usage on flights of over three hours
Now for what may be not-so-good news: stage two of the system will fit the A380s with mobile phone cells, starting July, enabling passengers to make calls on their phone.
While that facility's been available through in-seat handsets for some time, we're wondering if the ability to use your own phone will see an increase in annoyingly nattering seatmates.
Other Australian Business Traveller stories on in-flight Internet
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.