Qantas pushes forward on domestic WiFi as Virgin eyes LA routes

Qantas pushes forward on domestic WiFi as Virgin eyes LA routes

Qantas is ramping up the rollout of inflight Internet across its domestic fleet while rival Virgin Australia extends its WiFi reach to US routes.

Qantas has now kitted out 15 of its 80 Boeing 737-800 jets in the seven months since the launch of the Qantas WiFi service, with the airline stepping up to a second-generation or 'Gen2' technology platform which it says will deliver even faster speeds compared to its original testbed WiFi system fitted onto the first aircraft.

"Our goal is to give our customers the best inflight Wi-Fi experience in Australia," says Qantas Chief Customer Officer, Olivia Wirth. "We’ve installed ViaSat’s next generation in-flight WiFi service, which delivers speeds up to 10 times faster than conventional on-board WiFi."

Wirth also confirms that the domestic Airbus A330s which ply the east-west routes will start to sprout the same technology from early 2018, putting Qantas on track to have its entire domestic Boeing 737 and Airbus A330 fleet online by the end of 2018.

(It's unlikely that the smaller regional QantasLink jets such as the Boeing 717, Fokker 100 and Bombardier Dash 8 will be fitted with inflight WiFi.)

Qantas will then turn its eye to international flights, although even the airlines' factory-fresh Boeing 787 Dreamliners aren't being delivered with WiFi on board.

This is where Virgin Australia believes it has an opportunity to steal the march on Qantas, with the challenger set to offer inflight Internet on flights to Los Angeles from the end of this month.

The first of the airline's five Boeing 777-300ER jets is currently being fitted with satellite WiFi, with its four siblings being upgraded through to April 2018.

WiFi pricing for the Australia-US routes has yet to be revealed.

Things are moving more slowly on the domestic front. A spokesperson for Virgin Australia confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that only its third Boeing 737 will receive WiFi in December, while the Airbus A330s – which are being tapped for Virgin's Asian expansion – "won't be done until the end of 2019."

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.


  • OzMattyD


    17 Nov, 2017 12:05 pm

    I have to say that I was disappointed that there wasn't a satellite 'bump' on the back of the new 787-9...
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  • fallingflat


    17 Nov, 2017 12:41 pm

    Fun Fact: adding the satellite bump on the would cause fuel efficiency to drop, preventing it from making the PER > LHR flight.
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  • Alex_upgrade


    17 Nov, 2017 04:54 pm

    I'm wondering whether QF's focus on these non stop services to Europe ex Perth will backfire. Eg, as a business traveller would I be happy to give up connectivity to fly non stop? No.
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  • traveller90


    18 Nov, 2017 11:08 pm

    In a word - Yes! They are nothing more than a short term PR stunt, with the EU routes soon returning to Asia for their one stop. Simple flight physics.
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  • Ozshanel


    17 Nov, 2017 05:08 pm

    I am amazed that the last paragraph of this article is not a major headline. Whilst Qantas has fitted wifi to 15 of its aircraft, Virgin has managed.... 2 and will not have completed its much smaller fleet until a year after Qantas.
    It puzzles me the free ride that Virgin receive from the media. Qantas constantly cops criticism for its innovations however "me too" Virgin is allowed to implement the same innovations, poorly, without a whisper said about it.
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  • Michael Gibbons


    17 Nov, 2017 05:44 pm

    It’s not uncommon. Virtually all national carriers face the same thing.
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  • Himeno


    17 Nov, 2017 10:44 pm

    That always happens. The airline/s a nation sees as the "nation's airline" gets hammed in the press, even while other airlines of the same nation do the same thing and get no press about it.
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    17 Nov, 2017 09:07 pm

    I think it's about time that airlines offer WiFi free , inclusive in their ticket cost. These days customers and everyone in general are so dependant on it. Time will come when this is a standard inclusion. I feel the airlines are making a big thing about it to get market share - I don't think it will be long until we see this as a standard thing.
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  • Chris Quick


    17 Nov, 2017 09:23 pm

    Out of interest does anyone know the rego's of these 15 738's that QF have with wifi now?
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  • Marc Littlewood


    17 Nov, 2017 10:34 pm

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  • Russjking


    18 Nov, 2017 12:29 am

    I am not fussed about wifi for a short flight (2hrs) but trans-continental would be good
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  • moa999


    18 Nov, 2017 01:43 pm

    Has Qantas actually turned on the WiFi on 15 aircraft though??

    While the bump may be installed, it still seems to be switched off.
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  • Marc Littlewood


    18 Nov, 2017 01:58 pm

    I think your right, still negotiating more than 1 plane with access
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  • Scott Brown


    19 Nov, 2017 09:19 am

    The reliality is both airlines are leading in different aspects at the same time. VA will have wifi on the USA routes as early this week from the article, no “me to” there, only AUS airline to offer that, leaders there.
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  • bert


    19 Nov, 2017 01:56 pm

    Had internet access syd to per Qantas last monday, used it for sending emails. Excellent!
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17 Jul, 2019 05:03 am


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