Posted November 2nd 2021
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When you’re a business traveler, you’re traveling with a purpose—whether that’s for a business meeting, a conference, or for training. All that time in the air can seem like time wasted, and there’s inevitably going to be a moment where you’ve forgotten to download that Netflix series you’ve been meaning to watch. However, when you have Wi-Fi on board, you can really get stuff prepped for when you land.
So, instead of being stuck in the sky with no connection, plan ahead and book an airline that offers Wi-Fi from liftoff until landing. We’ve put together a little guide to the best airline Wi-Fi experiences for business travelers to help you keep your work flow going when you’re up in the air.
The top 5 airlines with free Wi-Fi
Free Wi-Fi is an easy enough find on land, but up in the skies, it’s a luxury to get it for nothing. Book with these airlines and you’re guaranteed connectivity all the way to your destination.
1) Norwegian Air
Norwegian Air is our favorite for free inflight Wi-Fi—it’s unlimited! Norwegian don’t put a cap on how much data you use, so you’re free to work all the way to your destination. One caveat: They don’t have Wi-Fi onboard their transatlantic flights yet, so bear this in mind if you’re heading to the States.
If you’re traveling within Australia, travel with Qantas to stay connected above the clouds. They offer unlimited free Wi-Fi across their fleet when you travel domestically. The best thing about their Wi-Fi is that they don’t ask for your email address or any credit card numbers—you just need your boarding card at the ready to log in.
JetBlue is flying high in our list of airlines with free Wi-Fi—they offer Wi-Fi on all of their fleet from gate-to-gate. You won’t need to leave your work responsibilities on the ground when you fly with JetBlue as you can make Wi-Fi calls, write emails, and craft presentations from 38,000ft.
Delta offers free messaging on their planes so you can keep in touch with your team before you touch down in your destination. If you want to do more than messaging, they offer a range of plans that you can book before you board that are all reasonably priced.
Emirates are repeatedly voted as the best airline in the world, so it’s no surprise that they offer free Wi-Fi onboard to their passengers. They give you 20MB of free Wi-Fi to get started on their flights and after that, you can pay for other Wi-Fi packages as you go. With their free package, you’ll have enough data to check up on emails or to keep your colleagues informed about when you’re landing.
5 airlines that offer the best paid inflight Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi on planes is still relatively new and not all airlines have installed the technology that allows us to surf the web from above. The majority of companies that do have this tech charge their passengers to use it. In no particular order, here are the airlines that offer the best paid airline Wi-Fi services onboard their planes:
1) Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic are leading the way for airlines with Wi-Fi—all of their planes offer Wi-Fi on board. Now, if you’re heading across the Pond for business, this will be sure to be a relief. Inflight Wi-Fi prices onboard Virgin Atlantic vary depending on which aircraft you board, but the “Wi-Fi Max” pass costs £14.99 (around 17 euros) for full flight internet access according to TripAdvisor.
2) British Airways
BA is ramping up their Wi-Fi service on board their planes and by the end of 2019, they expect to have Wi-Fi available on 90% of their planes. The great thing about British Airways’ Wi-Fi is that they charge you by the time you use, not how much data you use onboard. This means that when you do pay for the Wi-Fi—you don’t need to worry about how much you’re using it on the flight.
They offer two packages onboard: “Browse” or “Stream” with the Browse package being slighter more cost-effective. The Browse package will cost you 14.99 GBP (around 17 euros) for the whole flight and the Stream option will cost you 23.99 GBP (just under 27 euros) according to One Mile At A Time.
3) Cathay Pacific
All of Cathay Pacific’s A350s have Wi-Fi onboard and they’re now introducing it onto their Boeing 777 fleet. You can find out what plane you’re going to be on in advance by checking their flight timetables.
Cathay Pacific’s Wi-Fi prices are the same across the board and like British Airways, you pay for the time you’ll be using the Wi-Fi inflight. For flights under 6 hours, their Wi-Fi costs $12.95 USD (around 11 euros) and for longer flights, it costs $19.95 USD (around 18 euros).
4) Turkish Airlines
Turkish Airlines take pride in the quality of their Wi-Fi and promote it as being strong enough to take your office to the skies. If you’re flying in Business Class for your trip, you’ll get free access to their inflight Wi-Fi services and if you’re in Economy, you can pay by the hour or for the full flight.
The full flight internet package on Turkish airlines is very reasonable, it will set you back just $14.99 USD (around 13 euros) for your whole journey. If you opt to clock into the office for just an hour, it will cost you $9.99 USD (around 9 euros).
Lufthansa’s FlyNet® is still being rolled out across their fleet and they advertize their Wi-Fi as being available on “selected A320-family aircraft” for short to mid-haul flights. For long-haul flights, you’ll know if they have Wi-Fi onboard thanks to their hotspot symbol which is advertised upon boarding your flight.
On Lufthansa short-haul flights, they offer three inflight Wi-Fi packages. FlyNet® Message for emails and texts costs 3 euros for the flight, FlyNet® Mail and Surf offers you faster-browsing speeds at 7 euros for the journey, and FlyNet® Mail and Surf Plus gives you 1GB of browsing data at 12 euros for the flight.
Lufthansa long-haul flights offer the same packages but for an increased price. FlyNet® Message costs 7 euros, FlyNet® Mail and Surf is 17 euros, and FlyNet® Mail and Surf Plus costs 29 euros for the flight. Keep in mind that you can pay for your inflight Wi-Fi with Airmiles too.
Why is Wi-Fi on planes so expensive?
Wi-Fi on planes is expensive as it’s still a relatively new thing, it only came about in the mid-2000s. The technology is still being developed and it comes with a hefty price tag for airlines. Companies have to pay for setup costs as well as maintenance fees.
Another reason for Wi-Fi on planes being so expensive is that the antenna that receives the Wi-Fi from the ground actually slows the plane down so the Wi-Fi costs also go towards the additional fuel that’s needed.
Do transatlantic flights have Wi-Fi?
If the airline you’re flying with offers Wi-Fi on board, you will get Wi-Fi on their transatlantic routes. One thing to keep in mind though is that a lot of these routes take the Polar Route to America or back to Europe and that’s an area where the signal gets weaker. There are a few areas like this in the world where the inflight Wi-Fi signal is scarce, mainly where there are large bodies of water or where it’s very remote (some parts of China, for instance).