Woo-hoo! Qantas’ in-flight Internet will be free
So many more opportunities to tweet "I'm on a plane".
I wasn't expecting this. It was only last month that I was speculating about how much Qantas would charge for its in-flight Internet service, which is due to roll out in 2017. Now the airline has fully confirmed that it won't be charging anyone to use it for domestic services. A statement from the airline yesterday was unequivocal on that point: "It will be free and it will be fast."
Qantas' stand will put pressure on Virgin, which is also planning to roll out Internet access on domestic services next year, to take the same approach. That would be a win for travellers, but not necessarily for the airlines, since it eliminates a potential source of profit. With fares continuing to drop, a new way to make money could have been useful.
Having Internet access has benefits beyond being able to check your work email and indulge in a Netflix binge (speed gods willing). As Qantas points out, it will also allow pilots to access better weather information, maintenance crews to track the performance of planes in real time, better decisions on emergency landings if a passenger has medical issues, and more information for passengers with connecting flights if there are delays.
I'm sure there will be people complaining about this option, either because they believe everyone already spends too much time online or they're worried that everyone on the plane will be making WhatsApp calls. However, as I've noted before, no-one is going to be forced to use it. And you can always choose to fly Tiger or Jetstar if you find the concept objectionable.
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 finder.com.au.