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Qantas WiFi in the Sky

b2ap3_thumbnail_Qantas_TravMedia_Australia_medium-sized_1201854_Qantas_A330.jpg                Image credit: Qantas supplied

The decision whether to work or relax on your next flight just got a whole lot tougher.

On Friday 7 April, Qantas flicked the switch on its new free inflight Wifi service. Qantas passengers on Wi-Fi enabled planes will be able to work online, reply to emails, stream live sport or catch up on the latest shows and films – oh the dilemma!

Originally intended to roll out "Sky-High WiFi" in February, however the popular carrier delayed the launch due to "stability issues" with the satellite-based service. Fair enough, it sounds like a technical feat and testing of the new technology is still underway.

The Qantas WiFi trials will take place on a Boeing 737-800 jet (aircraft registration VH-XZB if you must know and emblazoned with the WiFi symbol, so keep your eyes peeled) which will service the popular east coast routes between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and the odd east-west crossing to Perth, which will satisfy the business traveller.

The airline is undertaking a three-month trial to 'beta test' the service for travellers to assess traffic loads and other real-world factors. Following the testing phase, installation of the new technology will be carried out across the 80 strong domestic fleet of Airbus 330s and Boeing 737s expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

Will you know in advance whether your Qantas flight will offer "sky-high WiFi"? It's unlikely Qantas will promote the service in advance due to the operational need to swap aircraft between routes, so it will be pure luck if you hit the jackpot in the coming months.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Qantas-plane-Kurt-Ams.jpg          Image credit: Kurt Ams

This Qantas sky-high WiFi is a game changer; I once accidently booked a flight on Melbourne Cup Day and was mid flight while the race that stops the nation was being run, oblivious to the outcome in the sky. Imagine now, I'd be able to make a bet online, watch the race live and then boast about my win on social media all before I landed!

While you still can't use your 'phone' to actually make calls, I'm not sure how they will police people using WiFi to Facetime their friends and loved ones, and what about the constant sound of pings and notifications from phones around you? The times of being blissfully uncontactable while you embark on your voyage will soon be a thing of the past. Maybe we can look forward to changes to the inflight video to include online etiquette?

How it works, make sure you've downloaded the relevant apps before boarding and once you're underway, connect your laptop, tablet or smartphone to the WiFi hotspot and then voila! Free WiFi!

Some of the initiatives by Qantas to enhance the inflight experience include complimentary access to thousands of newspapers and magazines via PressReader as well as Foxtel, Netflix and Spotify coming on board to provide content in 2017. Passengers will be able to access Foxtel, Netflix and Spotify on their personal devices after logging into the plane's inflight WiFi. While these are normally a paid subscription service, passengers will have free access on and off the aircraft for between 3 days and one month after their Qantas flight (Note – both Netflix and Spotify require customers to sign-up to a subscription to access the free trial). Foxtel and Netflix both have huge catalogues, so there will be no shortage of entertainment on board.

For frequent flyers and business travellers, Wifi will be a godsend, but for others, it may seem like the last place to escape the online world and relax uninterrupted will be gone forever.

Are you looking forward to free inflight WiFi on Qantas or prefer the peaceful solitude of plane travel? We'd love to hear your thoughts, so message below!

b2ap3_thumbnail_airportstyle.jpg   Image credit: Brooklyn Blonde
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