More European airlines launch free in-flight wi-fi as JetBlue completes its Fly-Fi roll out

Praised by some, dreaded by others, in-flight wi-fi has been slowly introduced to airlines all over the world, particularly over the last decade, often as an overpriced additional option for passengers who just can’t get through the flight without sending off a few e-mails. In recent years, however, as the cost of implementing in-flight wi-fi has decreased, so too has the price for customers. Some airlines are even going so far as to make the service completely free.

This week, US carrier JetBlue announced they have completed their roll out of their free high speed service, called Fly-Fi, across their network. Reaching speeds of 12-15Mbps, the service is impressive considering many homes in Australia can’t even access those speeds – even more impressive considering it’s being offered completely for free. Most US airlines offer internet through GoGo Inflight Internet, which is a bit slower than the JetBlue service and costs US$7 for an hour or US$19 for the day.

For more information on the JetBlue Fly-Fi offerings, head HERE.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines have announced they are going online on short haul and mid-range flights, with it being initially available as a free service. The product will launch across at least 10 Lufthansa A320s in Q1 2017, with the entire fleet being upgraded by the middle of 2018. The re-fitting of all 31 aircraft at Austrian Airlines is planned to be completed before the end of April 2017.

Eurowings also has plans to bring the Internet on board its aircraft, with an estimated launch by the end of the first quarter 2017. A total of 69 Eurowings aircraft are to be fitted with the systems by the summer of 2017.

Lufthansa passengers can gain Wifi access to the Internet using their own mobile devices. As well as email services, applications such as video streaming will be possible too. After the free trial across some of its network, customers will then be able to choose between three different service packages – FlyNet Message for EUR 3, FlyNet Surf for EUR 7 and FlyNet Stream for EUR 12 per flight.

Though this is a new service for the German carrier, Lufthansa was the operator of the first commercial long haul flight worldwide to have broadband Internet access back on 15 January 2003. The service had to be taken off the market in 2006 despite its technically reliable system and its growing popularity with passengers, because the necessary “Connexion by Boeing” satellites ceased operations.

Since the end of 2010, Lufthansa has again been offering broadband Internet access on its inter-continental flights – once again as worldwide first. And since June 2015, FlyNet has been available on all current 107 Lufthansa long haul aircraft, With the addition of the Boeing 777 to the fleet, the group’s subsidiary SWISS also started offering Internet on its long haul flights; for the short haul and mid-range, its introduction is currently also under consideration.