EXCLUSIVE | Virgin Australia appears to be moving closer to its promised launch of inflight Internet, with the airline now surveying travellers on pricing models – and how much influence these would have when choosing to fly with Virgin or Qantas.
Virgin has flagged a two-tier service with Basic and High Speed options.
In the survey the Basic connection is pitched at between $8 and $14 per flight and listed as being suitable for Web browsing, email and social media.
The High Speed alternative, which the poll posits at $15 to $21 per flight, boosts the bandwidth to cover streaming video from the likes of Netflix.
However, Virgin also allows that "on some flights the price could be free, or the first 30 minutes could be free."
Either way, travellers are promised an always-on experience which would be available "from when passengers board the aircraft, in the air and up until disembarking," with inflight Internet access "as fast and reliable as typical home connectivity."
The online survey asks users to consider WiFi access on Sydney-Melbourne and Sydney-Brisbane flights – two relatively short trips which none the less are Australia's two most popular routes.
The survey's many screens weigh up Internet pricing for both Qantas and Virgin against airfares, with Virgin between $5 and $25 cheaper than the same trip on Qantas.
Interestingly, many of the screens also indicate paid inflight Internet access on Qantas at both Basic and High Speed levels – despite Qantas' promises that its Qantas WiFi service will be free.
The poll also tries to assess how popular certain services such as online news, streaming video and messaging apps would be if Virgin's inflight Internet was free.
The launch of Qantas WiFi is imminent, although the airline hastily cancelled this week's planned media test flight – which was to precede public availability – citing 'stability issues' with the signal from the NBN's Sky Muster satellite.
Approached by Australian Business Traveller for comment, a Virgin Australia spokesperson said "Virgin Australia is on track to begin introducing inflight wifi connectivity this year."