Qatar Airways Airbus A350 inflight Internet

Review: Qatar Airways Airbus A350 inflight Internet

overall:

What's Hot

  • Plans to suit most access needs

What's Not

  • Slower-than-expected speeds
  • Plans count both time and data

X-Factor

  • Free for the first 15 minutes

Introduction

Qatar Airways' Airbus A350 flights between Adelaide and Doha not only bring a new aircraft with new business class seats into Australian skies, but also the airline's inflight Internet service.

Free for the first 15 minutes and chargeable thereafter, it allows busy business travellers to keep in touch with the office or their loved ones back home in between take-off and touchdown.

Australian Business Traveller went sky-high surfing on a recent flight from the City of Churches to the Qatari capital to bring you this review.

Content

Qatar Airways Airbus A350 inflight Internet: plans

Travellers aboard Qatar Airways' Airbus A350s can choose between four Internet plans, with prices being the same for laptops, tablets and smartphones.

But note that each of those plans has both a time limit and a data limit, expiring as soon as either limit is reached.

  • 10MB/15 minutes: FREE
  • 30MB/one hour: US$5 (A$6.56)
  • 100MB/three hours: US$10 (A$13.12)
  • 200MB/duration of the flight: US$20 (A$26.24)

On one hand, it's great to see a free option which proves ample for a quick sweep of your emails and a check-in on social media, but on the other, having dual limits on each plan does make them very restrictive.

That's because a traveller could purchase the US$20 flight plan – hoping to maximise their work aboard – but chew through their data allowance in a much shorter period and be left with no connection at all.

Qatar Airways inflight Internet: getting online

Simply connect to the 'OnAir' hotspot and open your web browser to find the free 15-minute plan waiting for you: At this point you can't select one of the paid options, but a wise man would use this free trial period to test the connection speed before shelling out for the paid service.

Returning customers can log-in to their existing Qatar Airways WiFi account to get connected faster, while first-timers need to create an account using their email address, which takes only moments.

Once online, you'll be reminded of your flight details including the flight number – handy if you need to complete an arrivals card – along with the weather at your flight's destination.

Hot tip: If you've packed multiple devices like a smartphone, laptop and a tablet, you can enjoy a separate (and free) 15-minute Internet session on each device, provided you supply a different email address on each one:

Once the free period has passed, you can then purchase a plan and monitor your usage on the WiFi portal's main screen, or observe how quickly you tore through your data: Paid plans can also be shared between your devices but used on only one device at a time: so if you're working on your laptop but pack it away while dining, fire up your smartphone or tablet and login to your WiFi account to continue browsing.

Qatar Airways A350 inflight Internet: surfing speeds

Nobody expects lightning-fast inflight Internet, but the connection on tonight's flight was very much on the slow side with download speeds topping out at 0.39Mbps, uploads at 0.77Mbps and with pings of 1396ms: Uploads proved on-par with most ADSL and entry-level NBN fibre plans on the ground in Australia, allowing you to send email attachments or upload images in much the same time as you would at home.

Downloads, however, ran considerably more slowly, and while the connection was still usable, speeds could certainly have been faster.

We'd also like to see Qatar remove its data download limits to remain competitive with Gulf neighbours Emirates and Etihad, on which your connection is measured by time (Etihad) or costs only US$1 for 500MB (Emirates).

More AusBT reviews, features on inflight Internet:

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter:  we're @AusBT

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

4 comments

  • qickdraw

    qickdraw

    6 Sep, 2016 01:36 pm

    Hmm, 0.39mb/s is a rather underwhelming download speed in todays market. It would be interesting to know where this speed test was done (geographically) and how many times you did a speed test to get this as an optimal result.

    I believe QR were using SITAONAIR via Inmarsat Swiftbroadband - which is only L band and so is extremely limited in available bandwidth. That would go some way to explainng the poor result, but I would have thought that a cashed-up airline like QR would have re-assessed its IFEC strategy since 2012, and would be racing to install Ku or Ka systems.

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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    6 Sep, 2016 02:15 pm

    Hi qickdraw, based on the time shown in the speed test above from my Adelaide-Doha flight, the flight would have been about 1.5 hours out of Adelaide when tests were conducted.

    That's about when readers are most likely to be using the service on this route, and being an overnight flight that arrives before 5am local time in Doha, I went to sleep after that.

    Several tests were conducted with the results included being the highest achieved and other tests showing comparable figures.

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  • qickdraw

    qickdraw

    7 Sep, 2016 09:40 am

    Hey Chris - thx for going out of your way to reply (FYI - this is one of theings I really like about AusBT, the ability to properly interact with you guys).

    From your response it would seem that my second paragraph above still holds true, and QR are using L band for passenger Wi-Fi. I wonder how much longer that will be considered as acceptable...?

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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    7 Sep, 2016 05:41 pm

    Hi again, we don't really cover details on satellite bands as we write for the average passenger and their direct experience: passengers notice how fast the Internet is, what it costs and on which aircraft it's available, for example, but most flyers wouldn't know (and wouldn't need to know) the type of satellite band used in the background. For that reason I'll leave replies to that question to others, as it's not a comment for us to make here. :)

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Guest

23 Jul, 2019 11:58 pm

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