Virgin Australia says international inflight WiFi 'coming soon'

Virgin Australia says international inflight WiFi 'coming soon'

Virgin Australia aims to expand its inflight Internet service to cover the USA and Asia while also building up its domestic fleet of WiFi-equipped jets.

The airline, which is nearing the end of a three-month trial, has just upgraded its second Boeing 737 with Gogo’s 2Ku technology.

“But we’ll be doing the whole fleet, Airbus A330s and Boeing 777s, and we’ll have WiFi on Asia and US routes soon,” Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti told Australian Business Traveller during the airline’s inaugural flight from Melbourne to Hong Kong.

How soon, we pressed? “Very soon,” Borghetti teased.

“It’s just a matter of scheduling – when you’ve got over 100 aeroplanes, you want to try and (upgrade) them when you are doing heavy maintenance.”

The free trial of Virgin’s inflight WiFi service has seen passengers enjoying typical download speeds of 15-20Mbps.

AusBT review: Virgin Australia inflight Internet

Virgin hasn’t revealed if the service will remain free after the trial period, but is believed to be leaning towards letting travellers choose between two levels of service: a Basic connection suitable for Web browsing, email and social media, and a High Speed pipeline for streaming video from the likes of Netflix.

In a survey sent to selected Virgin Australia passengers earlier this year, Virgin pitched a Basic connection at between $8 and $14 per flight, with the High Speed alternative at $15 to $21 per flight.

However, Virgin also allowed that “on some flights the price could be free, or the first 30 minutes could be free.”

Read: Virgin polls travellers on inflight Internet pricing, usage

Qantas will seek to differentiate its own Qantas WiFi service by offering it free for all passengers.

However, the Flying Kangaroo’s focus is firmly on its extensive domestic network, with ten Boeing 737s being upgraded to the NBN satellite tech in time for an official launch of the service in September this year.

While the airline says it’s considering extending the service to international flights, this is not expected to happen until after the 80-strong domestic Boeing 737 and A330 fleet is fully upgraded by late 2018.

David Flynn travelled to Hong Kong as a guest of Virgin Australia

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.
 

12 comments

  • reeves35

    reeves35

    12 Jul, 2017 08:20 am

    International expansion will probably be easier for VA than QF.  VA has chosen the global Gogo platform for its wifi product.  It can be used globally as it is already in service with airlines such as BA, DL and VS.  QF has currently gone with the SkyMuster product which is currently concentrated on Australia using the geostationary NBN satellites.

    Currently the SkyMuster product looks like it will initially offer faster speeds than Gogo for services within Australia but doesn't offer the global coverage.  This may mean QF offers a different product when introduces wifi on international services or the service ties up with a competing global product to offer seamless international coverage.
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  • moa999

    moa999

    12 Jul, 2017 12:46 pm

    That's just for the Qantas 737s. The 330s are reported to be using a Ku/Ka antenna that will be able to use other satellites as well
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  • reeves35

    reeves35

    12 Jul, 2017 01:48 pm

    I assume there will have to be another round of testing if this is the case.  This would suggest that the A330 fleet is unlikely to be upgraded until towards the end of the stated late 2018 timeframe.
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  • UpUpAndAway

    UpUpAndAway

    12 Jul, 2017 08:53 am

    10 Mbps is all I need for work and play
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  • Yvan J Drake

    MRYJDrake

    12 Jul, 2017 12:08 pm

    I just stick to a Mars Bar a day for all my work rest and play
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  • David Ryan

    David69

    12 Jul, 2017 11:16 am

    Whilst it would be convenient to have access, I find that I like being able to put my phone in flight mode, take a time out and not be bothered by emails and messages whilst flying. Yes, I'll still put my phone in flight mode but people will no longer accept flying as an excuse for not immediately replying to messages.
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    Amylou540

  • bagpuss

    bagpuss

    12 Jul, 2017 11:26 am

    "The whole fleet" ... Does that include the VARA fleet ? (As Virgin are great at excluding VARA)
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  • reeves35

    reeves35

    12 Jul, 2017 01:46 pm

    I'd be surprised if either QF or VA bother to install wifi on their regional airlines yet; maybe in years to come but at this stage I think that only mainline fleets are rostered for the upgrades.
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  • rod102

    rod102

    12 Jul, 2017 09:14 pm

    Trailed this unexpectedly MEL - ADL VA233 03.07.2017. Tried You Tube, Netflix & Stan in addition to iMessage and email. Easy to connect and no issues streaming video. Thank goodness no voice services!
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  • Tracie

    Tracie

    13 Jul, 2017 05:45 am

    I think they should be looking at the bigger picture first rather than worrying about wi-fi. The alliances they have are all over the shot - I'd have a better chance of winning lottery than naming who Virgin are aligned and not aligned with today. Sort out the international lounges and flights before you introduce new aspects. 
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  • traveller99

    traveller99

    15 Jul, 2017 05:05 am

    I recently grow flew a American Airlines from London to New York. They use Panasonic as their wi-fi provider. It was $19USD for the duration of the flight (about 7-8 hours). I was more than happy to pay that to stay connected to my own business and action emails etc rather than arrive in New York and have to spend my first couple of hours at my hotel on my laptop. 

    Speed was about 2-3mbps which was fine for email and web browsing. The productivity and reduced stress cost alone was worth the cost. 

    It should always be a paid for service or at just a free low suited service and a paid for premium service. On another flight in Emirates Sydney to Dubai (where wi-fi was free) it was totally unusable. 

    On another note in the USA, GoGo produces wi-fi for many of the airlines and it's $50 to buy a month pass with unlimited usage. 
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  • traveller99

    traveller99

    15 Jul, 2017 05:07 am

    Lots of typos in my post. Typing it on the go on my phone. 
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21 Jul, 2019 04:36 am

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