Virgin Australia begins charging for fast WiFi at $9 per flight

Virgin Australia begins charging for fast WiFi at $9 per flight

Virgin Australia has begun charging travellers for high-speed inflight Internet on domestic flights, although slower connections will remain free of charge.

Prices will kick off at $8.99 per flight on shorter routes such as the Brisbane-Sydney and Sydney-Melbourne.

"Costs for high-speed services will vary depending on the length of the flight," a spokesperson for Virgin Australia tells Australian Business Traveller, describing the rollout as a "trial" which "is not restricted to specific routes."

"We expect guests will use up to 13Mbps for higher-bandwidth applications such as video streaming and downloading large files or attachments," the spokesperson says.

A standard connection for "basic Web browsing, email and social media" will be free, with Virgin predicting "most guests (will) use under 1Mbps for these services."

There's no word on if the airline will offer a monthly pass covering all WiFi flights – something which Virgin's technology partner Gogo currently sells for US$50/month on US carriers Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

Virgin Australia currently has a dozen WiFi-equipped Boeing 737s in the sky, delivering typical download speeds of 15-20Mbps free to all passengers since the service began its trial mode in April 2017.

AusBT review: Virgin Australia WiFi on a domestic Boeing 737

The airline plans for most of its Boeing 737s to be sporting that tell-tale WiFi hump by year's end, with the stragglers being wired up – or maybe that should that be unwired – by January 2019.

The twin-aisle Airbus A330s most often seen on east-west flights will get their WiFi upgrade from late 2018 through to early 2020, the airline says. 

At odds with Virgin's pricing strategy, Qantas will continue to keep its own inflight Internet free for all passengers.

Initial tests pegged the average download speeds for the Qantas WiFi service at 10-15Mbps, however Qantas says the updated ‘Generation 2’ technology now being fitted to its Boeing 737s will boost connection speeds as well as reliability compared to the Gen1 system of its first WiFi jet.

AusBT review: Qantas WiFi on a domestic Boeing 737

Several of Virgin’s international Boeing 777-300ER jets already offer Internet on flights between Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Los Angeles, with the service running in a free ‘public trial’ mode which will shift to a price-based system in May 2018 once all five jets have been upgraded.

Virgin has yet to reveal those pricing plans, including if they will be based on time connected or data consumed.

WiFi should also be available on Virgin's Boeing 737 flights to and from New Zealand, Fiji and Bali in the coming months.

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.
 

9 comments

  • CityRail

    CityRail

    30 Apr, 2018 08:38 am

    Well, $8.99 is quite reasonable for a short flight. But I think this feature should be free for Business Class passengers.

    Moreover, I think they should install WiFi on board VA 68/69/82/83 asap so that we can enjoy WiFi internet en route to Hong Kong, which is very important for university teachers and businessmen to keep connected on air with their students and clients.
    Members who gave thanks

    David, Jordan Rowland

  • Jordan rowland

    Jordan Rowland

    3 May, 2018 02:40 pm

    Add Platinums to that list as well... There has to be some differentiation between Gold and Platinum..
    No member give thanks

  • russell

    russell

    30 Apr, 2018 09:13 am

    Would like to see free high speed for Platinum flyers, a small way to add some much needed value add to their highest loyalty tier.
    Members who gave thanks

    Dec540, asbindia, David, lmz, Jordan Rowland

  • flyer

    asbindia

    30 Apr, 2018 04:44 pm

    Couldn't agree more, at the moment there isn't really much of a difference between Gold and Plat
    Member who gave thanks

    lmz

  • henrus

    henrus

    30 Apr, 2018 05:27 pm

    I think the biggest advantage is Economy X seats.

    Having free Economy X seats (as a platinum) is the only reason why I've stuck with Virgin. Sure free fast wifi would be a plus but it would draw me to or from either VA or QF.
    No member give thanks

  • Mitchell Dennis

    Mitchd31

    30 Apr, 2018 07:20 pm

    I have used the wifi on VA LA flights and it is fantastic.
    No member give thanks

  • Scott Brown

    DownSouth

    30 Apr, 2018 08:24 pm

    Mitchd31 I have likewise, the VA 777 wifi is brilliant, great for a 14hr flight.
    Member who gave thanks

    lmz

  • petercr

    petercr

    2 May, 2018 02:37 pm

    Wonder if a survey I did about 6wks ago was related to this (possibly coincidentally coming from a company that offers Velocity points as rewards)?
    No member give thanks

  • Jason Campbell

    jason120au

    2 May, 2018 03:33 pm

    Is Virgin's wifi any better than Qantas's? Isn't Qantas's wifi free? Why do Virgin think its appropriate to charge for it?
    Member who gave thanks

    bsb

Guest

18 Jan, 2019 11:20 pm

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