Emirates Is Cutting (Nearly) Free Wifi As Of June 14, 2017

On the surface Emirates has one of the most attractive wifi offerings of any airline. Emirates’ fleet consists exclusively of A380s and 777s, and a vast majority of those planes have wifi.

Emirates’ current wifi pricing

Emirates offers each passenger up to 10MB of free wifi, and then they can purchase an additional 500MB of wifi for just $1.

Emirates-Wifi

So a small amount of wifi is free, and then 500MB of wifi is very inexpensive. If you exceed that amount you can always buy another 500MB pass for another $1 (though 500MB is a lot of data).

All that sounds great on the surface, but the problem is that wifi on Emirates is excruciatingly slow to the point that it’s almost unusable. They have a limited amount of bandwidth they’re working with on the plane, and there’s a huge difference in usage depending on the pricing.

So while it’s nice that everyone can use some wifi, it also means that I don’t bother using wifi on Emirates on my laptop, since it literally takes minutes to load a web browser.

Personally my preferred wifi systems are from airlines like Etihad and Singapore, which let you purchase a wifi pass for the entire flight for ~$20, which has no data caps. The speeds are good that way, and the price isn’t unreasonable.

Emirates’ wifi pricing as of June 14, 2017

Emirates has sent out an internal memo informing employees of changing to their wifi plans.

As of June 14, 2017, Emirates will adjust their pricing structure for wifi, as follows:

  • All passengers will continue to get 10MB of free wifi
  • First and business class passengers who are also Emirates Skywards members will get unlimited free wifi
  • Other passengers will have the option of purchasing 150MB of wifi for 9.99USD, or 500MB of wifi for 15.99USD

Those prices are still reasonable, and I’ll be curious to see how it impacts wifi speeds on Emirates.

Here’s part of the notice that Emirates sent out to employees regarding this change, including an explanation on why they’re making this change:

From 14 June, we’re introducing two new Wi-Fi price plans on board. We’re also providing free Wi-Fi for the whole flight to Emirates Skywards members traveling in our premium cabins.

Here’s an overview of the changes in each class:

Economy Class

  • Customers can still enjoy 10MB for free for up to two hours from initial sign-up
  • A choice of two new price plans if thy want to use more megabytes of data

First and Business Class

Emirates Skywards members:

  • Free Wi-Fi for the whole flight: This includes upgraded customers, as well as Staff travellers who are also members of our loyalty programme. Customers in premium cabins who sign up for Emirates Skywards membership can only start taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi privileges from their next flight onwards.

Non-Skywards members:

  • Can still enjoy 10MB for free for up to two hours from initial sign-up
  • A choice of two new price plans if thy want to use more megabytes of data

What are the new price plans?

  • Free — 10MB
  • 9.99USD — up to 150MB
  • 15.99USD — up to 500MB

Why are we making these changes?

At Emirates, the overall customer experience is always at the core of everything we do. We constantly review our products and services across all cabins to make sure we continue to surprise and delight our customers and add value to their experience. At the same time, we streamline our services based on customer demand and feedback.

The Wi-Fi service has proven to be massively popular, with around 750,000 customers connecting every month.

Now customers can choose a plan to suit their needs, rather than paying a flat fee for a set amount of megabytes. And all customers can still connect on board for free for up to two hours.

Our free Wi-Fi for Emirates Skywards members traveling in First Class and Business Class adds another great benefit to being part of our frequent flyer programme.

Why isn’t our Wi-Fi totally free?

Our Wi-Fi is amazing value, and customers can still connect for free for up to two hours.

Getting Wi-Fi in the air is expensive, and within the limits of today’s technology, connecting isn’t easy. We’ve invested a huge amount in equipping our aircraft. So we’ll start charging customers a relatively small amount towards the service.

The charges don’t actually cover our investment, but they will go some way towards the cost of providing the service and help us to roll it out across our fleet for more customers to enjoy.

Bottom line

Emirates has been remarkably generous when it comes to their wifi pricing, though almost frustratingly so. Emirates is one of the few airlines offering onboard wifi where I don’t even bother trying to get any real work done due to the slow speeds. That being said, I recognize that for the average leisure traveler, getting free messaging on flights is awesome.

This change is no doubt intended to boost revenue, given Emirates’ cost cutting of late. However, perhaps it will also mean that wifi speeds won’t be quite as bad as they are now.

What do you make of Emirates’ plans to change their wifi pricing?

Comments

  1. The effects of electronics ban is starting to show….revenue need to be made. Sacrifice is a must.

  2. This is actually way better. So my wifi will be free on my next MXP-DXB-IAD flight in F and there will be way less people (e.g. peasants) on it.

  3. “The effects of electronics ban is starting to show….revenue need to be made. Sacrifice is a must.”

    Fair enough. But one could make the opposite argument too– i.e., given the laptop ban, free wifi would lure travelers to EK.

    When is the ban going to end?

  4. “So, would this affect folks that are crediting to AS?”
    +1, my question exactly

  5. Ben where is your trip report from the Residence?
    I didn’t miss it , I don’t think.

    when will you be posting it?

  6. I love this site, but much too much is made about wifi (and caviar, champagne and cappuccino). Some people fly all over the world without any of these.

  7. @ Adi — It will be published tomorrow, just putting the finishing touches on it as we speak. Sorry, has been a crazy week and this takes quite a while to write.

  8. Dangit and I’m flying Emirates in early august out of LAX. Now here’s one thing I didn’t get. It says if you are a skywards member, then you get unlimited free wifi. I have a skywards account but rarely use it. So does that mean without any Skywards status I Get free unlimited wifi? Or do I need to have status to get free unlimited wifi?

  9. Any bet if this will be a benefit for status. I’m actually going to be hitting Skywards silver on the 14th and then have another flight at the end of June in economy.

    As of now, the wifi is great for whatsapp.

  10. I’d say, unless the airline and wifi company are willing to expand the offering with speed, and reliability, then any price increase does not justify the service. In the USA, I feel wifi is already too high priced as it is for such slow, unreliable service that disconnects automatically while you’re in the middle of using it actively. Gogo I’m talking about you bucko.

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