Airberlin Inflight Wifi Coming Fleetwide

Inflight wifi is something that’s becoming increasingly important to business travelers, and it’s interesting to see the different approaches airlines take towards it. In particular, it’s interesting how differently airlines seem to perceive the elasticity of demand for the service among passengers.

On one end of the spectrum you have Emirates, which is now basically offering free wifi — the first 10MB is free, and the next 600MB is just $1. They view inflight wifi as part of their core product offering rather than a profit center, which I think is brilliant.

Then on the other end of the spectrum you have Singapore Airlines, which charges $1,200 for inflight wifi. Clearly they view it as a profit center and not a core product offering. ūüėČ

It looks like the next airline to add inflight wifi is airberlin. They’ll be using Panasonic as the provider, and so far have two Airbus A320s equipped with wifi. Within three years airberlin apparently plans to equip their entire fleet — including their longhaul A330s — with wifi. It’s interesting to see that they’re actually starting by offering wifi on their shorthaul aircraft, and will then install it on their longhaul aircraft — that’s the opposite of what most airlines seem to be doing, whereby they start with wifi on their longhaul fleet.

Airberlin-1
airberlin Airbus A320

Unfortunately I think they’re really missing the boat on pricing:

  • 4.90EUR for 30 minutes (including 20MB of data)
  • 8.90EUR for 60 minutes (including 50MB of data)
  • 13.90EUR for entire medium-haul flight (including 90MB of data)
  • 18.90EUR for entire longhaul flight (including 120MB of data)

The pricing isn’t unreasonable based on the amount of time the pass is valid, though the data caps are unreasonably low, in my opinion. 120MB for a longhaul flight is on the low side, unless you just plan on texting from a mobile device, in my opinion. As a point of comparison, Lufthansa charges ~20EUR for wifi on a longhaul flight, and has no data caps.

Still, it’s better than nothing, I suppose.

Airberlin-Business
airberlin Airbus A330 business class

Comments

  1. “They view inflight wifi as part of their core product offering rather than a profit center, which I think is brilliant”

    3 Emirates segments in the last 2 weeks for me, and the internet was only usable on 1. The other 2 took 5+ minutes to load per page. Even the 1 that did work, it was pretty slow.

    Contrast that to Lufthansa (10+ segments this year) or Etihad (1 segment in the last 2 weeks) where the wifi is always usable and very snappy (for being 5 miles above the earth, anyway) and at ~$20 for the whole flight, the cost is not unreasonable at all.

    This leads me to believe that there is not enough bandwidth currently available to be able to offer free internet to the entire plane. Rationing the bandwidth via a pay-wall (that most people are, evidently, unwilling to pay) is the only way to make it work for now.

  2. Offering it on shorthauo aircraft first is “the opposite of what most airlines are doing”? We can quibble about the quality of AA/US, UA, and DL….but pretty sure they are still quite sizeable airlines and have followed this same short haul first strategy.

  3. Lucky,

    the simple reason why they are installing WiFi on their short-haul fleet first might be, that AB has quite a share of business travellers on short-haul flights (thanks to cost-cutting measures across industries requiring short-haul travel in economy class…), who are probably more willing to pay the price for internet access than the leisure, bargain-seeking long-haul traveller to the US or Caribbean, who snatched his return ticket for ~550$…

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