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.