Passengers travelling across the Atlantic have a plethora of airlines to choose from, but for many business travellers – particularly those working in time-sensitive industries like finance – having access to inflight WiFi is a big attraction, and could be a reason to choose one airline over another.
One such WiFi-equipped airline is Lufthansa, which offers its FlyNet inflight Internet service on a range of International routes, and we put it to the test on a recent Boeing 747-8 hop from New York to Frankfurt to bring you this review.
Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 SkyNet inflight Internet: plans
Depending on whether your needs are browsing, messaging or both, Lufthansa offers a selection of plans at various price points:
- 1 hour plan: €9 (A$14.50)
- 4 hour plan: €14 (A$22)
- Flight pass: €17 (A$27)
- FlyNet Chat (instant messaging only, capped at 64kbps): €9 (A$14.50) for the flight
As you'd expect, all major credit cards are accepted for payment (including AMEX and Diners Club), and if you're sitting on some Lufthansa Miles & More miles and don't have a better way to spend them, you can also swap 3,000 miles for a one-hour plan or a Chat pass, 4,500 miles for a four-hour plan or 5,500 miles for a full flight pass.
There are no data download limits attached to the timed plans or flight pass – or to the Chat pass, aside from the limited speed – and you can move your connection from one device to another by creating an account during the payment process, and using that account to sign in elsewhere.
For those purchasing the one-hour or four-hour plans, you can monitor how much time you have left by leaving the WiFi portal open in the background on your device: and if you sign-in on a new one, you'll see the same screen:
Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 SkyNet inflight Internet: coverage
On my overnight flight from New York JFK to Frankfurt, the connection became available shortly after take-off, which is when I purchased a one-hour pass as I'd planned to sleep for the rest of the flight.
Before entering any payment details, the system shows you both how much time is remaining on your flight and how much connectivity time you're expected to have between now and landing:
That helps you decide whether you'd like to buy a full flight pass over perhaps a four-hour pass, while also highlighting that the connection is indeed working before paying to get online with any pass.
During the hour I was connected, I didn't notice any coverage drops and had no difficulty in moving the connection between my laptop and smartphone – and when your plan is used up, the home page simply changes from purple to yellow, where you can buy further access if desired:
Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 SkyNet inflight Internet: speed
Again, being an overnight flight, I found the one-hour pass more than sufficient for a few last-minute emails and the like, and measured download speeds of between 2.7 and 11Mbps across my smartphone and tablet, with uploads hovering around the 0.3-0.35Mbps mark.
On the download front, those speeds are more than acceptable, being fast enough for most regular tasks, and for video streaming too when at the higher end – although the variance in speed would make HD streaming difficult.
Uploads were less speedy, being around what you might get on a mid-range household ADSL2+ connection: so although sending photos or uploading email attachments may take a little time, they'll get there in the end.
All things considered, Lufthansa's 'SkyNet' inflight Internet service offered reasonable download speeds at a reasonable price, and having the option of a one-hour pass on a night-time flight was appreciated, as some airlines will only sell a flat-fee pass, even if you don't plan to stay online for very long.
However, if you buy access on one of Lufthansa's long-range flights, your plan doesn't carry over to any shorter connecting flights across Europe (or vice versa), so you'll need to purchase a pass again.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Frankfurt as a guest of Star Alliance and Lufthansa, although WiFi access for this review was at Australian Business Traveller's expense.