Australia’s flagship carrier Qantas says it’s recent experiment with in-flight internet service was something of a bust – news reports quote an airline spokesman as saying, “Customer take-up of the Wi-Fi service was extremely low.”
U.S. Airlines Add Wi-Fi
This is in sharp contrast to the U.S. where airlines can’t seem to add the service fast enough. Southwest was the most recent entrant in the Wi-Fi-on-planes club and it’s believed to be one of the few fee-based services American Airlines has ever promoted in advertisements.
Why the Qantas Wi-Fi Experiment Failed
The internet connections were introduced on Qantas’ A380 aircraft servicing long-hauls flights to Los Angeles and London. However, fewer than 5% of these passengers took advantage of the service. One reason may be sleep – most of these routes were flown at night and passengers may have preferred getting some shut-eye to visiting Facebook.
Price may have been another factor: Qantas charged between about $13.50 and $40+ for its Wi-Fi packages while fees in the U.S. generally start around $6. Also, Wi-Fi service on U.S. planes is increasingly available on long-haul flights and those of shorter duration favored by business travelers.
Do You Use Wi-Fi?
For years now, travelers in the U.S. have been asking airlines for more internet access though a glance around the cabin of any crowded plane appears to show only a minority actually take advantage of it, which begs the question: If you have Wi-Fi access on a plane, do you use it?