When does airplane wifi work? The ultimate guide

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The idea of not being able to check our Whatsapp messages, Instagram posts and our email is almost inconceivable for many of us. But we often have to do without them when we fly. Fortunately, more and more companies are offering wifi on board to let us remain connected to the world underneath us. Some companies offer some sort of free wifi; but with most of them, you’ll have to pay for it. So here’s the deal, is it worth it?

Is the wifi free when flying?

How does airplane wifi work?

Chances are, NO! There are only a couple of airlines that offer free wifi when on board and they do it mostly for specific routes. For example, Norwegian Air and China Southern

The rates for wifi on board differ enormously per airline. Despite the fact that the prices have dropped by 12 per cent, wifi on board remains expensive and airlines are still cashing in. On an average of 6.65 euros per hour or 14.35 euros per flight, the passengers are still expected to pay for the service.

The cheapest fare we could find belonged to Scandinavian Airlines. At SAS you pay € 4.90 per flight. However, on European flights, Norwegian offers free wifi. The most expensive provider is the Portuguese airline TAP. It charges 1 euro per megabyte which is, to put it mildly, insane. Just to illustrate,  one Instagram post will use around 750 kilobytes of data. Aeroflot also charges a hefty price for wifi: 45 euros for 150 megabytes.

Why is airplane wifi so bad?

One of the major challenges is the quality of service, which is not yet the optimal. Indeed, we cannot expect a connection as stable in the air as the one we can use on the ground. However, for 75% of passengers, the reliability of the connection is the most important factor. As well, even when paying through the nose for the service, don’t expect fast connections or being able to stream video content.

A survey by the Swiss bank Credit Suisse shows that 60 per cent of Americans, Asians and Europeans are willing to pay for wifi when flying. Most travellers are used to being cut off from the outside world for a few hours when they travel, some even enjoy it or are well prepared to be disconnected by downloading a movie or e-book before boarding. And so, the question arises.

Wifi on planes is it worth it?

Is plane wifi worth it?

The answer depends on what you will do with your data. If you haven’t sorted out all your plans for when you’ve arrived at your destination, then perhaps you should look into the option of connecting to the web whilst flying. It’s especially handy when you forgot to send that very important work email. However, if you’re just a tad bored then perhaps you could save some money by watching a movie.

We recommend that you prepare accordingly, if your airline does not provide neither an entertainment system nor free wifi on board, you can always download some episodes of your favourite series to your device and binge them. Furthermore, nothing beats a great book right? In conclusion, keep your travelling budget low by preparing ahead of your flight and buy your wifi only when extremely necessary.

Will I be able to connect to the wifi network on airplane mode?

So you have to do it. For whichever reason, you need to connect to the internet, but you don’t know if you’re device will be able to join the network if it’s placed on airplane mode. Good news then! You can turn the wifi option on while your device remains on airplane mode. Just remember to keep your cellular data off! Safety first, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram come second.

can I connect to an airplanes wifi in airlplane mode?

When will we see free internet on every single plane?

The installation of wifi on board is still an expensive undertaking according to Corendon. The Dutch airline has stated that installing free wifi on planes leads to price increases. Transavia has stated something similar and is not yet planning to start implementing any type of free wifi for passengers scheme. "The quality is still too low and the costs high, we will not introduce it on our flights for the time being'', a spokesman said. So in other words, don’t expect wifi to be freely available on every plane you board anytime soon.

To sum it up:

  • Wifi on board might be very expensive depending on the airline
  • Very few airlines have free wifi on board, so check before you fly
  • Plan accordingly and shave off some expenses from your travel budget
  • If extremely necessary, wifi on board might help you send that very important email. Just make sure to do it before checking Instagram or Twitter, you don’t want to run out of megabytes before you’re done
  • We won’t be seeing free wifi on every plane anytime soon. It’s just too expensive, according to some airlines

We hope you’ve enjoyed our little guide to the complicated topic of connecting to the internet through wifi when cruising the skies. Until next time!

Problems that not even wifi will solve? Let’s say a flight delay or cancellation?

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