Business Travel

United Offering Wi-Fi On Australia-US Flights

Qantas concluded last year that offering Wi-Fi to customers on flights to the US wasn’t worth it, but United Airlines — one of its main rivals on the Australia-US route — has reached a different conclusion. It has fitted one Boeing 747 with Wi-Fi access, and says it plans to upgrade 300 aircraft by the end of 2013.

A United Airlines spokesperson confirmed to Lifehacker that the first Wi-Fi-equipped aircraft does sometimes fly on United’s existing Australian routes (which connect Sydney, Melbourne, San Francisco and Los Angeles). Right now it would be something of a lottery to guarantee you were on a Wi-Fi equipped flight, but that will presumably become less of an issue as more aircraft are upgraded.

The satellite-based Wi-Fi comes in two flavours: Standard, which costs $US14.99 on longer flights, and Accelerated, which costs $US19.99 and claims to offer faster download speeds. Given the variability of satellite performance, I’m not sure I’d spring for the pricier option.

United has generally been seen as the bargain-basement option for flying to the US. Offering Wi-Fi might be a handy way to attract more passengers, especially for people who can’t sleep on planes. What do you think?


Have you subscribed to Lifehacker Australia's email newsletter? You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.