British Airways Inflight Wifi On 747

I flew British Airways first class from New York to London last night, and before I even share my thoughts on the flight, I wanted to share the part of the journey that caught me by total surprise – my flight had wifi!

British-Airways-747-FIrst-Class

I had no clue that British Airways had wifi on any of their longhaul planes, and as it turns out I really lucked out.

Apparently British Airways is trialing wifi on a single 747-400 aircraft.

What I find rather odd is that British Airways is trialing wifi on a single 747 aircraft for all of 2014, and based on the feedback will decide whether to continue with the program. This is a bit puzzling to me – is there any doubt that inflight connectivity is the way of the future?

I figured I’d share my thoughts on the wifi service. It was offered by T-Mobile, and I could actually use the same account I use with Lufthansa’s in-flight wifi, so I used that email address and password to log in.

BA-Wifi

Prices were £8 (~$14USD) for an hour, or £15 (~$25USD) for 24 hours, including taxes. I’d say those prices are fairly reasonable, especially the 24 hour pass. You can switch between devices using the same log-in credentials, but can’t use two devices using the same account at once. So I could easily switch between my MacBook Air and iPhone.

BA-Wifi-2

On Lufthansa a 24 hour pass can potentially get you wifi for two longhaul flights, while on British Airways that’s not happening, since there’s only one plane with wifi. So really rather than a 24 hour pass it’s a flight pass.

Admittedly wifi isn’t all that useful on a late night six hour redeye from New York to London, but I did want to try the service.

The wireless internet worked exactly as expected – it was roughly the same speed as I’ve experienced on Lufthansa redeyes (since fewer people use it on overnight flights, and presumably even fewer people use it on British Airways since they don’t know about it), so perfectly usable. No, it wasn’t fast enough to download stuff or watch YouTube videos without a lot of buffering, but I could easily respond to emails, write blog posts, etc.

British Airways, expanding in-flight wifi is an absolute no brainer. Not sure what you’re hoping to get out of testing it on a single plane for a year other than trying to optimize pricing, which you can do even if it’s rolled out further.

Emirates, Etihad, Lufthansa, etc., are all way ahead of you here. But kudos and keep on expanding the service!

While I realize not everyone will use inflight wifi, is there anyone that wouldn’t want to see British Airways add it fleetwide?

Comments

  1. Lucky, wouldn’t “trialing” simply mean trying this WiFi provider out and evaluating how easy it is to integrate, how reliable, what pricing schemes, etc.? That’s what the article you linked to suggests.

    There are a bunch of operators now, and before signing a huge contract with one, trying it out is a good idea.

    Let’s hope they do that sooner than later, but I think your indignation is a bit premature. 🙂

  2. If it was a trial, I would have thought they’d let you use it for free. I recall flying Turkish Airlines a year or two ago when they had the wifi on trial and it was free.

  3. Hi Lucy

    Just had to say every time you write “lucked out” i have to reread. Lucked out in the UK means the complete opposite! So it always confuses me.

    John

  4. Flew on that same plane on JFK-LHR about 10 days ago. I have to say the Wi-Fi did work really well and the prices are very reasonable. I think there has to be a way though for BA to block services that eat up the bandwidth (Things that come to mind are YouTube, torrents, VOIP services), otherwise the service can be dramatically slowed down by a single user.

  5. WiFi on a plane really?? I completely enjoy my flight without have the office doing extra work while VPN into the office. Next is going to be phones and I’m going to have some 14 year old next to me “oh my god’ every 10 seconds. The plane is the last sanctuary for us overworked people.

  6. Qantas trialed it a couple of years ago. It was free for J/F pax but the only time I was on a 380 that had it it wasn’t working. Soon after that it quietly disappeared. So either the trial showed that really no one did want it (no idea how much they charged for economy but knowing QF it was an arm and a leg) or maybe it just didn’t work all that well.

  7. @Joey it still is free! flew tk on a 777 to jfk a few weeks ago, and got free wifi in y class! needless to say, i watched youtube videos the entire flight and got absolutely no sleep whatsoever

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