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Vodafone’s new $5 in-flight roaming: How to get it

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You can now use Vodafone's international roaming while you're up in the air.

Sick of choosing between a Wi-Fi-free flight or inflated internet charges when travelling? Good news: Vodafone might just have delivered a new service that actually saves you money.

It has launched an in-flight roaming service that will allow you to talk, text and stream for just $5 on selected international airlines. Airlines can charge up to $30 to access the internet in the sky, so for frequent travellers, this represents significant savings.

How do you get Vodafone's $5 in-flight roaming?

If you're on a Vodafone Infinite, Plus or Vodafone Infinite Data Plan, you can only your included data with $5 in-flight roaming, along with your call and text inclusions. You can check which phone plan you're on in the Vodafone app or by checking a recent bill.

View Vodafone plans

To access $5 roaming, all you need to do is ensure that roaming is toggled on through the My Vodafone app prior to departure.

Once the plane has reached 20,000 ft and the pilot has activated in-flight roaming, switch on your device or switch flight mode off.

  • Keep in mind: Data capped at speeds up to 1.5, 2, 10 or 25Mbps is not accessible while $5 roaming.

The in-flight roaming uses satellite technology to enable passengers to safely use their mobile phones on connected aircraft, delivering 3G-like download and upload speeds on most flights with the satellite technology.

As the speeds are only 3G-like, that means any streaming is at standard definition rather than HD. But you can email, browse, text and even make phone calls just as if you were on the ground.

If you don't wish to use in-flight roaming and avoid the $5 charge, you can remain in flight mode or manage your roaming settings in the Vodafone app.

Which airlines support Vodafone's $5 in-flight roaming?

In-flight roaming allows Vodafone customers with an eligible phone, tablet or mobile broadband plan to use your included data, calls and text on selected flights and aircraft with participating international airlines. The airlines the $5 in-flight roaming is available on include:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Air Belgium
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Biman
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Egyptair
  • Emirates
  • Ethiad
  • Eva Air
  • ITA Airways
  • Kuwait
  • Lufthansa
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • SAS
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Swiss
  • Air Portugal
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Uzbekistan Airways
  • Good to know: In-flight roaming is valid for 24 hours, so if you used it during your flight and you land in one of Vodafone's $5 roaming eligible countries within that timeframe, you can continue to use roaming without paying extra.

While big local carriers like QANTAS, Virgin and Jetstar might not be on the list, many of these participating airlines do regular flights out of Australia. Qantas also offers free Wi-Fi in flight within Australia.

How does Vodafone's $5 in-flight roaming compare?

Compared to other big telcos, Vodafone's $5 in-flight roaming stacks up well.

Optus also offers $5 roaming, but you're restricted to 5GB of data alongside unlimited calls and texts and you can't use it in-flight.

Telstra's roaming also doesn't work in-flight.

Aside from telcos with in-flight roaming, the airlines themselves usually offer you the chance to use in-flight wifi - at a cost.

The price can be anywhere from US$9.99 to US$19.99 (AUD$15.88 to AUD$31.77) depending on the airline and the length of the flight.

So if you're a Vodafone customer and use its $5 in-flight roaming, it could save you around $10-$26 to use your device on a flight.

"Vodafone's international roaming add-on is best in class if you're happy with Vodafone's coverage day-to-day and are travelling to one of the 100+ countries where it's roaming network is present," Finder's Utilities editor Mariam Gabaji said.

"I needed a lot of data for my trip to New Zealand last year and the roaming add-on was a game changer. I could, for a change, take full advantage of the 150GB I get each month with my Vodafone mobile plan.

"Now being able to use the roaming add-on inflight is a game changer, given just how expensive buying Wi-Fi access on the plan can be."

Check out our guide to compare mobile plans to find the best deal for you.

Image: @Leung Cho Pan via Canva.com

Update 5pm AEDT 27 October 2023: We updated this article to reflect Optus' roaming does not work in-flight.

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