Inflight WiFi - luxury or necessity?

By aggie57 | Feb 13, 2019, 05:36 PM
On Saturday I did a 7hr flight from Boston to LAX on AA, with access to great in-flight WiFi via ViaSat. I could happily use cloud based business systems. Then Monday I did LAX - MEL with Qantas, obviously with no WiFi. Which frankly was a little frustrating and which got me thinking, should we expect decent in-flight WiFi these days and is it, or will it soon be, a consideration on which airline to book.
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By brinkers | Feb 13, 2019, 06:10 PM

Much of the enabling infrastructure is still being rolled out, so I think it will be a few years before you see it across fleets.

From what I recall, Qantas weren't thrilled with the current capabilities of the satellite services on Trans Pacific areas, and are waiting for the next generation to roll out. Providing the services domestically is a different story as they could leverage the NBN infrastructure

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By moa999 | Feb 13, 2019, 06:56 PM
Becoming expected over land (where you have ground to air or high latest gen satellite density)

Still difficult to get a good service over water.

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By Morgan27 | Feb 13, 2019, 07:04 PM
I feel like wifi is such a waste on fligths and isn't needed
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By markpk | Feb 13, 2019, 07:17 PM
My perspective is:
  • Cross country flights in AU or elsewhere - it's becoming a must. If you want to work you can keep on top of things and act quickly vs the dreaded "how many f****ng" emails did I just get" when you come off flight mode
  • The airlines need to be smarter about what planes with wifi go where. I was really annoyed last week to find the 2.45pm flight from PER-BNE didn't have WiFi, yet one of the contract flights up to the Pilbara did!
  • I'm with Qantas in relation to trans-Pacific flights - yes when you leave AU there's a window where it would be nice, but US to AU - leaving at midnight US time - nope.
  • At the end of the day we need to accept that WiFi availability is still a work in progress - satellite comms is still expensive in remote areas and lets face it, Qantas INTL flights generally spend a lot of time flying over remote parts of the globe!
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By IntegralMan | Feb 13, 2019, 08:16 PM
I count myself from the old school. Whether the flight is 1 hour or 10 hours, I have always enjoyed being forced to disconnect from the internet and my email inbox. It's a good time to power through some real work, or read a book if time permits.

Thankfully, onboard WiFi is nowhere near ubiquity just yet, so I still gleefully tell any party that will listen that I'm about to jump on a plane and will be offline for the next X hours, even if the plane does have WiFi. No doubt there will become a tipping point in 5 - 10 years where this will become incredible, but until then, you won't be hearing from me while I'm in the sky.
Last edited by IntegralMan at Feb 13, 2019, 08.51 PM.
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By aggie57 | Feb 13, 2019, 11:00 PM
Thanks for everyone’s comments. I suspect part of the reason I felt the need to ask is that so many of the systems we use at work these days are cloud based, so I’m relying on servers to dish up the data and information I use at work. And despite also being of the old school, i.e. liking to be ‘offline’ when in the air, the reality is at least some of that travel time is still work time, even (or especially) on a 15 hour overnight transpacific flight.
Last edited by aggie57 at Feb 13, 2019, 11.00 PM.
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By PCHammond | Feb 13, 2019, 11:18 PM
I just used the in-flight Wi-Fi to complain to my wife about how yet another one of my flights got delayed. And also to complain to my mates about how Bohemian Rhapsody is actually a mediocre movie if you remove the songs from it.

I've never used in flight wifi for anything actually productive
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By Steve987 | Feb 14, 2019, 08:06 AM
Luxury - no
Necessity - no
Disruptive pain in the a$$ - absolutely!
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By GBRGB | Feb 14, 2019, 08:38 AM
The biggest issue is airlines rolling it out across its entire fleet of aircraft, instead of having big holes like we have with QF and it’s 717’s. I am sure airlines will still have gaps in older aircraft as well, where they don’t see value in the cost of installations. I still think for many years we will jump on a plane expecting WI-FI and for some reason it won’t be provided, which will be frustrating.
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By readosunnycoast | Feb 14, 2019, 09:47 AM

Continental USA gets its inflight internet from ground based cell towers. Oceans require satellite coverage, The cost and logistics are entirely different.
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By xtfer | Feb 14, 2019, 12:58 PM
I fly premium classes so I can get work done, and will chose flights with wifi over those without. It's a necessity.
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By aggie57 | Feb 14, 2019, 08:30 PM

Continental USA gets its inflight internet from ground based cell towers. Oceans require satellite coverage, The cost and logistics are entirely different.

That’s true of GoGo equipped aircraft but Viasat is satellite based, American is using it on all their new 737 Max 8’s and are converting many of their older -800’s as well. The aircraft I was on was one of these converted -800’s.
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By nix584 | Feb 15, 2019, 08:43 AM
If flying to the US and wanting to use wifi, you can fly VA, NZ, UA or AA.
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By Msandler2009 | Feb 15, 2019, 03:37 PM
Somehow we all survived before planes had wifi and indeed before the internet itself. It seems that the more ubiquitous the internet becomes, the less opportunity we have to escape even for a moment from it. Perhaps we will come to a point where we will be unable to disconnect from the internet at all.
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By AT | Feb 15, 2019, 04:23 PM
I love to disconnect and have no emails or connectivity, but I equally love jumping online inflight and watching my own entertainment like NetFlix, iTunes movies etc. My recent flights Sydney-Perth on Qantas with free WIFI was awesome on my iPad binging shows (as was most of the flight given the amount of laptops and iPads people were watching I noticed on a walk to the loo). On long international flights I would love it for this reason too but I want it super fast and free, so I'm happy to wait for Qantas to have the best system.
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