United Offering Wi-Fi On Australia-US Flights

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?


  • The prices seem nice enough, the only question would be the performance and data allowance.

    Wi-fi would be a godsend on these types of long haul flights, eventually you get bored of music, movies, tv shows, reading, games, etc..

    This is the next best thing until supersonic travel is reintroduced or light speed travel is developed.

  • “United has generally been seen as the bargain-basement option for flying to the US.”

    You do get what you pay for. Is that wifi worth the potential grief of flying with United?

  • Won’t sway me. I like Virgin’s ambience, Bejeweled at my seat and their great PJ’s when I get to fly business, (at least when I can get them on the old 747’s) Qantas’ seats in the back with empty floor space between me and the window, and Hawaiian’s $500 upgrades to what they call first class or business class (I forget which, but most airlines would call it Premium Economy with more legroom) with a stopover on Oahu along the way. United offers none of these things. Wi-fi won’t sway me. Being disconnected for 14 hours is almost like a mini vacation.

  • Its probably the cheapest thing United could do to enhance their tolerability, but wont convince me to go with them, i prefer Virgin over Qantas for international, but if qantas offered affordable WiFi i would probably chose them over Virgin (depending on ticket price)

  • I tried United in economy once on the LAX-SYD route – no way I’d do that again, until United works out how to catch up to the others. Crappy service, crappy seats, no entertainment system and internet service won’t entice me. Why would anyone choose them over Qantas (and for those who bag Qantas, you will think twice after trying United). I was a United Premier Gold member for a few years and when you fly business it’s great (but not as great as some other airlines), but the quality drops dramatically past the curtain.

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