Inflight Wi-Fi is something that’s becoming increasingly important to business travelers, and it’s interesting to see the different approaches airlines take towards it. In particular, it’s interesting how differently airlines seem to perceive the elasticity of demand for the service among passengers.
On one end of the spectrum you have Emirates, which is now basically offering free Wi-Fi — the first 10MB is free, and the next 600MB is just $1. They view inflight Wi-Fi as part of their core product offering rather than a profit center, which I think is brilliant.
It looks like the next airline to add inflight Wi-Fi is airberlin. They’ll be using Panasonic as the provider, and so far have two Airbus A320s equipped with Wi-Fi. Within three years airberlin apparently plans to equip their entire fleet — including their longhaul A330s — with Wi-Fi. It’s interesting to see that they’re actually starting by offering Wi-Fi on their short-haul aircraft, and will then install it on their longhaul aircraft — that’s the opposite of what most airlines seem to be doing, whereby they start with Wi-Fi on their longhaul fleet.
airberlin Airbus A320
Unfortunately I think they’re really missing the boat on pricing:
- 4.90EUR for 30 minutes (including 20MB of data)
- 8.90EUR for 60 minutes (including 50MB of data)
- 13.90EUR for entire medium-haul flight (including 90MB of data)
- 18.90EUR for entire longhaul flight (including 120MB of data)
The pricing isn’t unreasonable based on the amount of time the pass is valid, though the data caps are unreasonably low, in my opinion. 120MB for a longhaul flight is on the low side, unless you just plan on texting from a mobile device, in my opinion. As a point of comparison, Lufthansa charges ~20EUR for Wi-Fi on a longhaul flight, and has no data caps.
Still, it’s better than nothing, I suppose.
airberlin Airbus A330 business class