mardi 4 février 2014

In-flight WiFi outside the USA: The complete guide

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Last year we brought you our complete guide to in-flight WiFi in the USA, but we thought it was time we catered to the rest of the world and gave a full rundown of all the major airlines that offer WiFi today.
Services are a bit more fragmented than the US, as you might imagine given the wide geographical spread, but there’s still only really a handful of WiFi providers that can keep delivering your emails, LOLcats and the rest of the Web to you in the sky.
While the information below is as accurate at the time of writing as possible, new aircraft are being fitted out with WiFi, and new routes are being added all the time. It’s probably also worth noting that there are a few spots in which you might not be able to use WiFi, even if you’re on a flight that is equipped. While in Chinese airspace, things are still a bit problematic for example. But even this looks like it could soon be rectified.
Without further delay, 34 non-US airlines that offer WiFi:

Aer Lingus

AerLingus 220x220 In flight WiFi outside the USA: The complete guide

Irish operator Aer Lingus operates a WiFi service on all its A330 aircraft on all its transatlantic routes, but it’s not yet available on European flights. The company notes that it is on the way though, starting later this year.
Aer Lingus uses Panasonic Avionics’ in-flight connectivity system and allows Business class passengers surf for free, a one hour pass costs €10.95/$14.95 or a 24 hour pass costs €19.95/$24.95 .
For that, you’ll get a download speed of approximately 1Mbps and an upload of around 5 Mbps. Obviously, with just 1Mbps downstream, don’t get too many aspirations of doing anything too demanding, but this is pretty much the case whoever is providing the service.
Like many other airlines, Aer Lingus also provides power sockets for keeping devices juiced up during flights, in both Business and Economy class.


Aeroflot 220x67 In flight WiFi outside the USA: The complete guide

As Russia’s flag carrier, it’s no surprise thatAeroflot has a functioning WiFi service(provided by OnAir) ready and waiting to go on several of its aircraft.
At the beginning of last year, the company said it planned to have it installed on 26 of its A330 and Boeing 777 aircraft on long-haul flights by the end of 2013.
Pricing is set at $5/$10 for 3MB/10MB on a smartphone or at $10/$30 for access via a tablet or laptop. In this instance $10 gets you 10MB and $30 gets you 40MB, so don’t go downloading too many large email attachments.
Out of bundle pricing for most plans is set at $1.50 per MB, although it actually costs $1.70 extra per MB if you go for the cheapest 3MB smartphone-only option. Payment is taken by directly billing your card once the flight is over and your usage has been worked out. You’ll need to enter your VISA, MasterCardAmerican Express, JCB or Discover debit or credit card details to get access to the service.

Air France KLM 220x220 In flight WiFi outside the USA: The complete guideAir France-KLM

Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlinesannounced in May this year that they were both just beginning to start offering an in-flight WiFi service for passengers and would continue to test it out until the end of the year.
It’s currently being offered on two Boeing 777-300s in the fleets and the first flights to use it were one to New York for Air France and Panama for KLM.
Pricing for the service is set at €10.95 per hour or €19.95 for the duration of the flight. Naturally, it’s only operational once the aircraft has reached sufficient height – in this case, 20,000 feet.
Underpinning the service is Panasonic Avionics’ in-flight WiFi services.

British Airways

BA logo 220x121 In flight WiFi outside the USA: The complete guide

British Airways is one of the first airlines in Europe to allow its passengers to use their phones from take-off right through to landing, so it’s no surprise to see that it’s also already providing WiFi in flight, as well as text services, on some routes.
However, it’s still pretty limited right now with only customers flying the Club World London City route to JFK airport in New York able to access WiFi. For the record, these use BA’s A318 aircraft and fly the route twice per day.
Pricing for using the OnAir WiFi service on board are set in package deals, with overage charged per MB.
As with some other airlines that provide services via OnAir, passengers on these flights can also send and receive text messages, and emails, via their phone. A BA spokesperson confirmed that there is no charge for receiving an SMS in-flight, but that a roaming plan (on the customer’s own contract) is recommended for customers wanting to use the mobile services. Which is just pretty sensible mobile phone roaming advice, whether you’re on a plane or not.

Cathay Pacific

cathay pacific logo 220x76 In flight WiFi outside the USA: The complete guide

Cathay Pacific is another airline in this list that we were told was a Panasonic Avionics customer, but doesn’t seem to yet be ready to offer in-flight WiFi to its passengers. However, in September last year, the company’s general manager of Product told Australian Business Traveller that a timetable is nearly in place to start trialling the service.
It seems the stumbling block has been finding a way to work around the lack of connectivity in Chinese airspace. We’ve asked the company if these plans have been updated since they were first announced and will let you know if there is a new timetable.
Update: Cathay Pacific’s spokesperson got back in touch to say: “Our provider (Panasonic Avionics Corporation) has been working for some time to secure the regulatory approvals needed to operate the system, particularly in some airspace of our route network. Once this approval has been granted and we are able to provide the service globally, we will start the rollout in earnest. We will provide anticipated timescales when we have more surety.”

Cebu Pacific Air

cebupacific 220x79 In flight WiFi outside the USA: The complete guide

Cebu Pacific Air struck a deal to offer WiFi and GSM connectivity via OnAir’s services back in 2012, and has since been rolling it out for long-haul flights – which launched in the middle of last year.
The service is available on some Airbus A330 aircraft, and the airline now has the option to install WiFi on its fleet of short-haul Airbus A320 aircraft.


dragonair logo 220x135 In flight WiFi outside the USA: The complete guide

Dragonair, a subsidiary of Cathay Pacific is a Hong Kong-based carrier, which we were also told is a Panasonic Avionics in-flight WiFi customer. However, Dragonair’s in-flight entertainment page doesn’t make note of WiFi services,or clarify that they will be offered in future.
We expect that when Cathay Pacific has formalised its plans for providing passengers with WiFi, it shouldn’t be too long before it makes it across to Dragonair.


egypt air 220x117 In flight WiFi outside the USA: The complete guide

EgyptAir began offering OnAir-provided WiFi on its fleet of A300-330 aircraft back in 2010, and was actually the second customer of OnAir, behind Oman Air.
As with other airlines here, it uses the full OnAir service that also offers telephony services over GSM (SMS, email) networks as well as in-flight WiFi.
Packages are priced from $5 for a smartphone-only plan of 3MB or from $10 for limited access from a tablet or laptop.


emirates logo 220x157 In flight WiFi outside the USA: The complete guide

Emirates is another airline that uses the OnAir system to allow passengers to browser the Internet, check email and generally be a bit more productive while soaring through the sky.
However, as with other airlines that use OnAir, prices can vary. On Emirates, WiFi price plans start from around $2.75 for smartphones and from $7.50 for tablets and laptops, depending on the amount of data you want to purchase, with a full selection of packages being made available once you have connected to the hotspot on board.
OnAir is available on the majority of Emirates’ A380 flights and a select number of Boeing B777 flights. A number of these also include in-flight GPRS/EDGE mobile services (for email or SMS) too, priced comparably to international roaming.


Etihad Airways Logo 220x146 In flight WiFi outside the USA: The complete guide

Etihad Airways in-flight services are a little less restrictive than some of the others in this list and also allows full mobile service on some flights. Perhaps a little surprisingly, there aren’t restrictions on video streaming services either, according to a spokesperson for Etihad, but the use of VoIP services like Skype are not permitted. Then again, at only ten years old, Etihad could be expected to be a little more forward-thinking than others.
Etihad has two mobile and internet connectivity solutions available across its fleet:
Etihad Wi-Fly is currently available on 28 wide-body aircraft (Boeing 777, Airbus A330 and A340), and is being rolled out on further wide-body aircraft in the future.
The system, which is provided by Panasonic, includes WiFi and mobile phone connectivity (provided by AeroMobile), although calls to 1800/800 numbers are blocked, the company said. WiFi on board these planes will set you back $11.95 for a 2 hour pass, $17.95 for a 4 hour pass or $21.95 for access valid for the duration of your flight.
However, that isn’t the only in-flight connectivity options offered by Etihad, as it also runs the OnAir service on three wide-body, and 12 narrow-body aircraft. The system includes mobile phone connectivity, and internet connectivity (on wide-body aircraft only). It’s considerably more pricey than the Panasonic options though, and will cost $10 for a mobile (only) package with 4MB of data, $20 for a mobile package with 8MB of data, $20 for a laptop/tablet package with 8MB data or $40 for 16MB of data.
Clearly, while some streaming services might not be restricted, if you’re going down the OnAir route, it seems unlikely you’d want to pay for them. For example, streaming an HD 720p YouTube video for just five minutes uses around 37.5MB of data – somewhere around $90 at these prices.


eva air2 220x48 In flight WiFi outside the USA: The complete guide

EVA Air is another that shouldn’t quite be included in this list, but as it’s due to take charge of its brand new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft any day now, WiFi services should be available before the year is out.

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