Inflight WiFi is becoming a non-negotiable for some travelers, and many will opt for the airline that includes the service over those that don’t, especially for long-haul routes. However, only a handful of airlines provide free WiFi to passengers, but each has its own set of limitations that are sometimes hard to find on a company website. Let’s look at the airlines with the best free WiFi offers for economy and business class travelers.
Best economy offers
JetBlue is a great place to start. The ultra-low-cost airline headquartered in Long Island offers free, high-speed WiFi for every passenger using ViaSat, and is the only American airline to make that move. Since 2017, the airline has made its Fly-Fi free for all customers on its fleet of Airbus A320s, A321s, and Embraer 190s.
The offer is in partnership with Amazon Prime. It allows users to stream videos and use multiple devices simultaneously, unlike competitors that only allow one screen at a time. JetBlue also pledges its download speeds up to 20Mbps, which is higher than any competitor.
Australia’s flag carrier Qantas also offers similar free WiFi to its customers, but only for domestic flights. Also, in partnership with ViaSat, since 2019, the airline has provided free internet for selected flights operated by its Boeing 737-800 jets and Airbus A330-200s.
According to the carrier – while far lower than JetBlue – Qantas’ system is capable of up to 12Mbps per device, which the company says is “ten times faster” than conventional inflight systems.
Air New Zealand is yet another airline that offers free WiFi with few limitations. According to the company, its Airbus A320neo aircraft that fly to Australia, the Pacific Islands, and some domestic New Zealand Routes offer free WiFi to all passengers.
The carrier also said four of its Boeing 787 Dreamliners are embedded with WiFi, and more are set to include it throughout 2022 and 2023. The WiFi is in partnership with Inmarsat and Panasonic Avionics. In 2019, Executive Traveler tested the airline’s download speeds on an A321neo and found a maximum of 4.7Mbps.
Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines gives customers access to free WiFi on all its Boeing 787-9 aircraft, and Gogo Air provides the internet.
Hainan is generous with its offering. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
Lastly, low-cost Thai carrier Nok Air provides free WiFi on all its Boeing 737 aircraft. The airline began its service in 2014 and was the first to make the move in Asia, powered by Thaicom.
Free economy WiFi with a catch
China Eastern Airlines has free WiFi, but with a catch. While dubbed a ‘test,’ their WiFi option has been available for years. When passengers have booked with China Eastern, they can apply for a free trial of the company’s internet access. However, only the first 100 customers will get it. The carrier said it’s “first come, first served.”
While the service is available for mobile phones, laptops, and other devices with pre-boarding registration, China Eastern has blocked many popular sites, making the free WiFi less appealing.
Philippines Airlines is another carrier that provides free WiFi for all passengers but is limited. All customers can access the company’s myPAL hotspot with a complimentary chat plan of 3MB. The plan does not support videos and photos. However, business class passengers can get an extra 100MB.
According to Airways WiFi, myPAL is available on Philippines Airlines’ Boeing 777 aircraft, exclusively on London to Manila and Manila to London routes, its Airbus A340 and A330 jets.
Business passengers and loyalty members
While business fares and loyalty clubs can often be pricey, they provide the benefit of free inflight WiFi – usually.
UAE’s flag carrier Emirates Airline offers free chatting on WhatsApp, messenger, and other services for Emirates Skywards blue, silver, or gold members traveling in business class or Emirates Skywards gold members in economy.
However, free WiFi for the whole flight is exclusive to Skywards members traveling in first class or Platinum members in business class. The entire Emirates fleet is embedded with internet access. The airline used to offer free 20MB to all passengers and unlimited texting to use within two hours, but this service has since been cut.
Singapore Airlines is the most recent carrier to trial free WiFi. According to Executive Traveler, the airline now offers free unlimited WiFi to first class passengers or a free two-hour ‘Surf’ package for KrisFlyer members sitting in premium economy or economy. Plus, members of the elite PPS Club can access unlimited free WiFi wherever they sit.
Singapore Airlines is known for its top service. Photo: Vincenzo Pace I Simple Flying
The offering will be available in some Boeing 777-300ER jets, all 787-10s, 747-8 MAXs, its Airbus A350LRs, and A350ULRs.
Qatar Airways offers free WiFi to economy customers, but the option is much more limited. In 2018, through Inmarsat’s GX Aviation technology, Qatar introduced its Super WiFi, which gives travelers one hour of free internet access. However, according to Qatar’s webpage, you must be a Privilege Club Member to access the complimentary hour.
In previous years, all passengers gained access to one hour of free WiFi, but Qatar’s website now says it is exclusive to their loyalty members.
Scandinavian Airlines offers free high-speed WiFi to travelers in SAS Business, SAS Plus, EuroBonus Diamond, and Gold Members for selected domestic and European flights. The company said flights to Aisa, Canada, and the US have a lower speed and will allow for basic internet use but not streaming.
Scandinavian Airlines’ WiFi is powered by ViaSat and claims passengers can get speeds of up to 12Mpbs during most of the flight.
Ireland’s Aer Lingus offers complimentary WiFi for its business class and AerClub Concierge customers. In its Airbus A330 aircraft, customers can use the WiFi, their data, and text, but in its A321neoLR, only WiFi is available. Aer Lingus offers a 5Mbps upload capacity.
Lastly, using ViaSat’s Ka-Band satellite technology, Israel’s EL AL gives its Top platinum members free WiFi during the entire flight.
Sources: Executive Traveler, Airways WiFi