blog It’s hard to be surprised by this move, given Qantas’ on-again, off-again relationship with in-flight Internet access, but one can’t help but be disappointed. Australian Business Traveller reports this morning (we recommend you click here for the full article) that Australia’s premiere airline has exited a trial of in-flight Internet running since March this year:
“Whilst customers who used the Wi-Fi service told us that they valued the option to connect in flight, overall the trial has demonstrated a lower than expected take-up of the service, particularly on overnight flights where sleep was their priority” explained a Qantas spokesperson.
It’s not the first time Qantas has investigated bringing in-flight Internet to its passengers. As early as 2003, as aircraft manufacturer Boeing kicked off a trial of in-flight Internet, Qantas said it was investigating in-flight email and Internet connectivity on international flights. “Qantas will therefore be watching the trial with interest,” a spokesperson for the airline told ZDNet.com.au at the time. For several years the idea went nowhere, but by 2006 the idea had been revived at Qantas, with the airline using its website at the time to announce that it would offer in-flight Internet when it started flying its new fleet of Airbus A380 planes. At the time, the timing for Qantas’ launch was to be mid-2007.
By 2007, however, that time frame had been pushed back again to August 2008. In July 2007 Qantas announced again that it would bring wireless Internet to customers flying on its A380s. In March 2008 — although International customers still hadn’t received in-flight Internet services at that point — customers flying on domestic routes with Qantas got some hope that the airline would implement the feature on in-country flights, with the airline announcing at the time that it would introduce in-flight Internet through a mobile base station, that would allow mobile phones to access the service.
It’s not clear what happened to those plans, but Qantas certainly doesn’t encourage customers in 2012 to use their mobile phones on its planes, domestic or international. And in September 2008, the airline abandoned long-held plans to bring Internet to its international routes using the A380 craft. No real reason was given by the airline at the time, and the issue has remained fairly dormant since that time, despite the continuing interest from passangers in in-flight Internet services and the availability of such services in countries such as the US.
One can’t help but feel at this point that it may be several years before the idea of in-flight Internet is revived at Qantas … for the nth time.