Issues Qantas Needs To Think About During Its In-Flight Internet Trials

As long rumoured, Qantas has officially kicked off its in-flight net trials, offering the service on a trial basis to passengers flying in first and business class to and from Los Angeles on the A380. Since the aim of the trial is to garner feedback and ideas, here are a few suggestions for Qantas to consider.

While trials informally kicked off last week, yesterday marked the official start of an eight-week test for the service. I'm not going to be on a plane to the US in that time (let alone in the swanky compartments), but that's not going to stop me offering a few hints.

Don't have stupid download limits

According to Australian Business Traveller, the early testers are being restricted to a 35MB download limit. I appreciate that satellite bandwidth is restricted and that testers get to use it for free, but over the course of a 14 hour flight, 35MB really isn't an awful lot. For a paid service over long distances, the options need to be more generous.

Make it clear it's not for talking

The bog-standard response to plans for in-flight net is "that sucks, everyone will start chatting on their phones". Make it clear that the service is for data (and block Skype and Facetime if you like) so that the trial examines real issues, not phantom menaces. (At the speeds apparently on offer, voice seems unlikely anyway.)

Add it to 747s as well

I'll always aim to fly on A380s where possible, and I can understand them being the first planes to get fitted with Wi-Fi. But there are still times when a 747 is the only way to go. Let's see those planes enhanced as well; after all, it doesn't require changes at every seat.

Get on with it

Qantas has been promising in-flight internet since 2008, but even as recently as last month CEO Alan Joyce was talking down the prospect. The evidence from US airlines is clear: people like and use these services. If you want to find a way to make more money on board, this seems like a no-brainer. I'm glad the trial is only eight weeks; I hope we don't have to wait eight months or more afterwards for anything to happen.

Got additional suggestions for internet in-flight? We're all ears in the comments.


Comments

    It's going to happen sooner or later, so yes, get on with it. People will use it for voice, and people with loud phone voices will be an issue, but no more than people having a conversation. It's up to people nearby and the hosties to police the noise.
    Is it possible to block only the voice and video of skype (and all others) and not the messaging?
    Yes to 747's. Yes to more data. I'd be happy to go with a small amount for free (e.g. 10MB/hour allows you to check emails) and to pay for larger blocks.

    i would be happy to pay a premium for faster service with increased downloads. The amount of work i could get done being online would easily be worth it. It would also stop people from using the service for voip etc.

    What about the porn problem? Maybe not a problem, but I've read that some US airlines have had folks clocking porn websites, which might not be a good idea if they're sitting next door to your young kids.

    why not offer a MB allowance also? i'd like to say, purchase 500MB hopefully spread it out over a 12hr plane ride, as opposed to purchasing hourly blocks.

    Block Skype? Good luck with that; Skype is only as popular as it is because it can punch through any blockers you put in its way...

    In the US you just purchase an allowance for the flight (e.g. $14.95 to use unlimited net on the flight you're on). The speeds aren't fantastic, but it's usable, and the airline posts notices that users should be sensible about the content they look at.

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