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Free in-flight Wi-Fi now a big selling point

As having internet access 24/7 on the go becomes more important to so many people, in-flight Wi-Fi provided by airlines is increasingly being seen as an important selling point, both by passengers and the carriers alike.

Now even budget-conscious travellers can access free connectivity in the air from a number of low-cost airlines, although some Wi-Fi services billed as 'free' come with restrictions on time and data usage.

Growing list

The growing list of carriers includes Europe’s third largest low-cost airline Norwegian, which offers free Wi-Fi on most of its flights in Europe, as well as on flights between the US and the Caribbean. International long-haul flights from the company have yet to follow suit. 

America’s JetBlue Airways became the first airline to offer free Wi-Fi on all of their flights earlier this year. The cleverly named 'Fly-Fi' service is available to all passengers as soon as they board and until it touches down at the destination. Most airlines only offer similar services when the plane is at cruising altitude.

Europe’s largest budget carrier Ryanair doesn’t have an in-flight Wi-Fi service and easyJet is reportedly looking at introducing some form of connectivity service at an unspecified date in the future.

Costs

Providing a Wi-Fi service in the air doesn't come cheap due to the technology required. Extra antennas needed also increase drag, which adds fuel costs to the airline’s bill. This is why customers have up to now usually paid a premium for the service.

Virgin Atlantic charges fliers around £14.99 per flight, while major US carrier Delta Air Lines charges around £27 for a laptop or tablet and £20 for a mobile per flight.

The world’s largest airline, American Airlines, currently charges around £12.75 for Wi-Fi access per flight on its international routes. Earlier this year it was among the first to recognise changing passenger behaviour and scrapped seat-back monitors on its new Boeing 737 Max aircraft which are intended for domestic routes in the US.

If you’re thinking of travelling abroad this year, be sure to organise your Budget Travel Insurance in advance.

Date Created: 22 March 2017

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