Virgin Australia to match Qantas with free WiFi on Aussie flights

Virgin Australia to match Qantas with free WiFi on Aussie flights

Virgin Australia will match Qantas in offering free Internet on all Australian flights from later this year.

Virgin today fired the starter's gun on its own WiFi rollout, announcing plans to outfit most of its 77-strong Boeing 737 fleet with the satellite technology by the end of 2018.

Inflight Internet will also be available - at a price that's yet to be revealed - on Virgin's Boeing 777 flights to the USA and Airbus A330 services to Hong Kong and China.

Read: Virgin Australia ramps up WiFi to USA, then Asia

Speaking to Australian Business Traveller this morning, airline CEO John Borghetti said all passengers on those domestic legs flown by the Boeing 737s will enjoy "a basic free offering" of Internet access.

Free access will not apply to the handful of Boeing 737 international routes such as New Zealand and Fiji "at this stage, but you know that we are competitive and will always meet the competitive position in the market," Borghetti said.

Two-tier system: free, and a fee

Borghetti also confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that the airline would implement a two-tiered system, with passengers able to pay "to upgrade that to further access, depending on what the guest wants."

This paid premium package is tipped to offer more security and could also offer a consistently faster connection compared to the entry-level free service, depending on how service provider Gogo configures the system.

Borghetti tells Australian Business Traveller that "we’re going to release the pricing structure shortly."

Virgin's move towards a two-tier system – first reported by Australian Business Traveller earlier this year – could put it at odds against Qantas, which promises a single-tier system that's fast and free for all travellers.

Instead, Virgin plans for what it has termed Basic and High Speed options – the latter of which was pitched at between $15 to $21 per flight in a survey sent to selected Virgin Australia passengers in March 2017.

Read the AusBT review of Virgin Australia's inflight Internet service

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

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.
 

8 Comments

  • Nathan Burgess

    Nburgess31

    10 Aug, 2017 01:05 pm

    Makes sense have two tier process.  With totally free the system will be overwhelmed by PAX trying to stream content.  Free access allows basic web browsing and email checking, you pay if you want more.
    Member who gave thanks

    David

  • John Odlum

    John Odlum

    10 Aug, 2017 01:45 pm

    Totally fine with a two-tier system, as long as the lower free tier is usable for basics such as web, email, social media. If you want streaming you should be prepared to pay for the higher bandwidth needed, and get a guarantee of the speed you need.
    Member who gave thanks

    Paully

  • mjduckby89

    mjduckby89

    10 Aug, 2017 06:13 pm

    John, with all due respect, I absolutely do not buy your argument that you ought to pay for it. When you visit a hotel or airport lounge, it is nowadays reasonable to expect that you will be furnished with a complimentary and suitable internet connection. This is not always met, but it's a reasonable customer expectation to hold.

    Satellite technology has improved in quality and reduced in price. It is now incumbent upon premium airlines to provide their customers with this service. If Virgin wants to continue being viewed as a premium carrier (which in my opinion, it can barely manage to do today), it needs to offer a premium complimentary internet service to its customers. 
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Ricks

    The Evil Muppet

    10 Aug, 2017 06:37 pm

    I disagree. How many airlines offer in-flight internet connectivity for free (even for premium cabin passengers)?

    The number is exceedingly small.
    Member who gave thanks

    Paully

  • Doubleplatinum

    Doubleplatinum

    11 Aug, 2017 01:13 pm

    Sounds like you are alone in your expectations
    No member give thanks

  • Susan White

    Susan White

    10 Aug, 2017 01:52 pm

    Great news, and what some people forget is that wifi isn't actually "free" because somebody has to pay for it, in this case it's Virgin. So a basic speed connection for free and a faster one paid makes perfect sense. You can't complain about Virgin doing poorly financially and not serving 'proper' snacks on flights and in the lounges while also expecting them to pay for expensive satellite bandwidth just so you can stream Game of Thrones en route to Perth for free.
    Member who gave thanks

    Amylou540

  • aklrunway

    aklrunway

    10 Aug, 2017 03:45 pm

    Typical Virgin and their inconsistency. Free on all flights except...

    Of course.
    No member give thanks

  • Susan White

    Susan White

    10 Aug, 2017 04:35 pm

    "Free on all flights except" what? Flights to NZ and Fiji which could be out range of the Optus satellite and so come under a different contract with Gogo for overseas satellites? International flights where Qantas doesn't even have WiFi yet? Some of the Virgin knockers need to stop and think before typing.
    No member give thanks

  • aklrunway

    aklrunway

    10 Aug, 2017 04:40 pm

    Maybe they could focus on making their schedules and inflight service consistent before thinking about adding yet another inconsistent service.
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Ricks

    The Evil Muppet

    10 Aug, 2017 05:04 pm

    The premium package is tipped to offer more security? That makes precisely zero sense. 
    No member give thanks

  • moa999

    moa999

    10 Aug, 2017 09:57 pm

    Maybe blocking VPNs - pity that would also knock out some corporate email access.

    Only time will tell.
    And if more people start streaming on QF, I suspect they'd move in the same direction (much like EK cut back on free wifi because it was becoming unusable)
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Ricks

    The Evil Muppet

    10 Aug, 2017 11:32 pm

    Blocking VPN connectivity isn't going to have any impact on the security of the service provided in any way, shape or form. 

    Whoever is proposing that improved security is a premium offering possibility doesn't understand the technology or is quoting someone who doesn't understand the technology (or both). 
    No member give thanks

  • jad01

    jad01

    10 Aug, 2017 11:26 pm

    I agree with the idea of a two tiered approach.
    Often when something is free, people use it because it's there and not because they actually need to.
    I've been on a 'free'wifi''flight and it took 15min for a single email that was text only.
    I think that if someone is going to sit there watching streamed entertainment sucking enormous data, then they should pay for it.
    No member give thanks

  • paul

    Paully

    11 Aug, 2017 06:59 pm

    awesome ! but do I really want work to know they can reach me on in the sky ? I love the fact that at the moment by fellow passengers ( next to me ) cannot make calls and youtube . Am I alone in this serenity ........
    No member give thanks

  • Michael Reilly

    AeroSexual

    15 Aug, 2017 12:48 am

    VA have no choice - it's Ku band technology - the airtime economics don't add up to offer it free across the board, hence the spin of 'two-tiers'. QF on the other hand are using Ka band technology - it's generally superior, especially in the airtime economics, so it can be free to all passengers, all the time.
    No member give thanks

Guest

18 Dec, 2017 08:29 am

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