Etihad Increases The Cost Of Onboard Wifi

Filed Under: Etihad, Travel Technology

The Gulf carriers are under a lot of financial pressure from their respective governments, and have been doing significant cost cutting lately. I’d say that Etihad has probably been doing a bit more cost cutting than Emirates and Qatar, and it’s really starting to show when it comes to their product. This includes things like them cutting back the food choices in their loungeseliminating chauffeur service outside the UAE, etc.

Well, it looks like their latest cut involves something near and dear to my heart. I value inflight wifi more than most, since wifi allows me to travel as much as I do. I couldn’t justify flying as much as I do if so many flights didn’t have wifi nowadays.

As far as airlines go, Etihad has had among the most attractive wifi pricing of any airline. Specifically, their wifi pricing on their flagship aircraft has been as follows:

  • $11.95 for two hours
  • $17.95 for four hours
  • $21.95 for a flight pass

This came with no data caps, and is extremely reasonably priced, in my opinion. Do note that some of their regional and older aircraft had wifi pricing based on data usage, but their A380s and 787s didn’t.

Well, unfortunately it looks like inflight wifi is Etihad’s latest cost cutting source. Points from the Pacific notes that Etihad now charges for wifi based on data usage rather than time, even on their flagship A380 aircraft. Zac shares the new wifi pricing:

  • $4.95 for 30MB
  • $11.95 for 90MB
  • $19.95 for 180MB

Now, in my opinion this pricing isn’t actually terrible, and there are airlines with much more ridiculous pricing. For example, Singapore Airlines charges $10 for 10MB of wifi on their A380, which is insane.

Etihad’s new wifi pricing isn’t so cost prohibitive that it would prevent me from using wifi, though it’s still sad to see the change. Realistically I doubt I’d be able to use more than 500MB of data over a longhaul flight, so ~$60 is still a reasonable price to pay for 10+ hours of productivity.

Still, this is a disappointing change, as the quality of Etihad’s wifi was something that really set them apart from their Gulf counterparts. Emirates’ wifi is so slow that it’s almost unusable, while Qatar doesn’t have wifi on their 777s (yet), which are the backbone of their fleet.

The best airlines for wifi continue to be carriers like Garuda Indonesia, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, etc. which have a similar pricing system and quality to what Etihad used to have.

Will you be impacted by Etihad’s change in wifi pricing?

  1. I won’t be impacted because I don’t fly with them but I think the price is high – I can burn through those data limits very quickly with my work flow. That said, 14 years ago when I started my business, before WiFi was WiFi as we know it today, Cyber Cafes in Europe were charging €1 per minute for internet access and there was no shortage of people lined up to log on. Thankfully those are long gone and WiFi is readily available and has become very affordable, even free in most places in Europe now.

  2. “I’d say that Etihad has probably been doing a bit more cost cutting than Emirates and Qatar…eliminating chauffeur service outside the UAE”.

    Since EK and QR never had chauffeur service in J, that’s OK…but EY cutting it, that’s terrible, terrible, a real degradation of their product.

  3. @ Chuck Lester — Emirates does offer chauffeur service in business class, including on stopovers, which Etihad never has.

    Furthermore, I said “cost cutting,” which is accurate. They’ve cut more than others have. I didn’t say their product was worse all around.

  4. I am surprised they make their First Class cabin pay for any wifi, especially The Residence when you’re spending that kinda cash for a flight. Disappointing.

  5. Interesting move, would’ve thought the development would go in the other direction: Cheaper, or even free. SAS and Norwegian both include WiFi in Premium Economy and upwards.

    I guess it’s a way to keep traffic low as well, instead of lots of people using it and noone being happy with the speeds.

  6. Have enjoyed free wifi on three carriers this year – Finnair, Oman and Emirates, all in business. So am a little bemused by the concept of having to pay….

  7. @Chuck Lesker I echo Ben, they have chauffeur service in business, I’ve used it several times and in several cities, including once in Houston where they dropped me off at my friend’s house 48 miles away from the airport.

  8. I used to use Emirates chauffeur service at Hong Kong but when I last visited in June it was no longer available for Hong Kong. Look’s like they are eliminating some of the more costlier chauffeur destinations.

  9. I’ve used Etihad’s Wifi on every single flight with them for the past 4 or 5 years. The pricing was especially attractive for me because with a flight pass for $22, it was actually a 24-hour pass rather than a flight pass, so I could use it on both legs from Europe to AUH, and AUH to Asia/Australia.

    Very convenient, I could even call my little one at home with Facetime Video.

    Now, with the data limits, I have a serious problem: our company uses Dropbox as central file storage. So, starting my computer in a different time zone after maybe a workday in Germany has passed, 180MB would be gone easily after a couple of minutes. So, in the future, I’d have to turn Dropbox off on the flight. This really limits the usefulness of the Wifi, and curbs my productivity in the sky.

    I will probably try it once, but if I learn that 180MB will not last long enough (which I assume), this would really be a reason for me to try other carriers as well.

    One more competitive advantage of EY gone 🙁

    And, even if 180MB would be sufficient: just the peace of mind knowing that it’s a 24 pass without limits was precious for me. Even if I didn’t use more than 180MB of data (I don’t know because I didn’t care).

    Sorry Etihad, you seem to be very keen on becoming an average carrier….

  10. @Michael Walbrach,

    Your data limits were from the “good times” on my last flight from Europe to Vietnam :

    You see that well : 30 USD for 30 MB : Thirty Dollars for thirty Megabytes.

    I’ve been a happy customer for many years but this is too much

  11. Indeed but has been fixed on my flights since a month, shortly after I mentioned on this forum. They are back to the 30 USD for 180 MB which is acceptable !

  12. I having flown Etihad regularly for the past 8 years since working in Abu Dhabi, it is very true that their services over the past few months have become increasingly degraded, to the level that on some flights the quality of their products and services are below the standards of many budget airlines which offer much cheaper flights with equal or better services. Food, service, facilities, provisions, and a huge range of other features that made Etihad a good airline have all gone, and the cost cutting has become so blatant that it is truly impacting on their reputation as seen by these comments. What I do not understand is why they are going to these desperate levels to degrade their airline when their profits are still incredibly high. I know several people who recently also lost their jobs with Etihad, and they disclosed lots of information about even more cost cutting in the coming period, including further cut backs to their Guest loyalty program and other benefits. Any more negative changes, and I will no longer fly with Etihad but rather choose a cheaper airline with better service and facilities. Very disappointing Etihad- I wish you would listen to your loyal customer base for once. Everyone is noticing what you are doing!

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