Four things Virgin and Qantas must do so in-flight internet succeeds

Angus Kidman 22 July 2016


How to maximise in-flight Wi-Fi for fun and profit.

Virgin Australia yesterday said that it will introduce in-flight Internet on domestic and international flights in 2017. Qantas had already announced similar plans earlier in the year, so 2017 will be the year that going online when you go into the sky will become a regular habit for Australian flyers.

I'm a big fan of in-flight Internet, and use it regularly when I'm in the US and anywhere else that it's offered; you can see exactly which airlines offer it in our comprehensive roundup of global airlines with in-flight Internet. I'm looking forward to having the option in Australia as well. (Reminder: if you don't like the idea, no-one is going to force you to use it.)

But if our two biggest airlines want the introduction to be successful, rather than a constant source of unpleasant social media chatter, they need to stick to the following simple rules.

Don't make the pricing ridiculous. There's no way that either airline is going to make internet access a free service, and that's understandable; it's an expensive feature to introduce. But charging an insane amount of money will just see people choose not to pay, especially on shorter-haul flights. I'd suggest a sum under $10 for flights under 90 minutes, under $15 for longer trips, and an option for a monthly all-you-can-eat subscription for regular users. If either airline wants to reward business class passengers with free access, they can do that by handing out voucher codes on board.

Ban the use of voice and video calling services. This might seem obvious, and most carriers internationally do it, but it's worth reinforcing. Having to spend the whole flight listening to someone on a WhatsApp or Skype call is nobody's idea of fun.

Make sure sign-in works on mobile devices. You'd hope this point wouldn't need making in 2017, but some of the systems I've used in the US don't seem to have heard of responsive design in any way. Many people are going to want access on smartphones and tablets, not laptops, and the system needs to be designed to respect that.

Don't sell different speed tiers A handful of airlines around the world offer a choice of speeds in the air, with a premium if you want something fast enough to stream video. Given the vagaries of satellite access, this is frankly a waste of time and only likely to cause annoyance.

Get that right, and we're good. Roll on 2017!

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on

Picture: Shutterstock

Ask a Question

You are about to post a question on

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Disclaimer: At we provide factual information and general advice. Before you make any decision about a product read the Product Disclosure Statement and consider your own circumstances to decide whether it is appropriate for you.
Rates and fees mentioned in comments are correct at the time of publication.
By submitting this question you agree to the privacy policy, receive follow up emails related to and to create a user account where further replies to your questions will be sent.

Ask a question