No demand: Qantas dumps in-flight Internet


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 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.


  1. My guess is that cost is a major factor here.

    $20USD for 25MB of data is not just too expensive in its own right but 25MB of data is barely enough to retrieve your email and load a few web pages these days. I tried it earlier this year on my way over to the US and whilst it was usable, the absolutely miniscule download limits made it basically useless for all but the absolutely desperate.

    Still, it’s a real shame it didn’t work out. Perhaps one day the economics will make more sense.

  2. oh no. I am a frequent flyer to US, and I used it and loved it. And would have paid more too. In fact, I sought out A380 flights in order to have access where I could

    That’s really disappointing. :-(

  3. One has a feeling the price might have been the issue……. Lower the price and watch demand go up!

  4. No demand at US$1 per MB would be a more apt title for this article. Once again this is a service not limited by its technical requirements, but by a bean counter in the marketing department.

    If they bothered to put wifi internet connectivity on the 6am to 8pm MEL-SYD-BNE routes I’m sure there would be several orders of magnitude greater demand, so long as it was a reasonable price like $5 for the hour (of the cruise part of the flight)

    • What a bizarre comment: ‘a bean counter in the marketing department’.

      I think that someone is confusing the three different teams of accountants, product/business and sales/marketing.

      What seems to be missed so far in the comments is that the high cost is not a reflection of a marketing decision, but a true reflection of the much higher cost of pumping data to an object that is moving at 900 Km/h at 40 Km above the earth’s surface.

      Sure if the price was lower the demand would be higher, but changing the price that consumers pay would not change Qantas’ costs. It would just make the service less viable.

      As for MEL-SYD-BNE routes, you’re only in the air for an hour or so, is it really that important that you get a $5 all you can eat service? I didn’t think so…

  5. its interesting that where Emirates is expanding its in flight wifi, Qantas is doing the opposite. hmmm.

    wonder which of the two companies are performing better

  6. I’m sure there would be no demand for a Ford Focus that had an on-road cost of $750K, either.

    It’s a case of cost versus reward; a price that few appear to feel is agreeable.

  7. As countless people here have noted, maybe it’s due to *COST*? Norwegian Air has free, fast and unlimited WiFi and it is a wonderful experience.

  8. I’m pretty sure price is the factor for the low uptake. We were on a flight to LAX early November and they announced they were testing it, we went to check it out and baulked at the ridiculous costs. Not worth it.

  9. Qantas just can’t seem to get anything right these days. This mideast nonsense is just the latest in a series of disastrously poor decisions that will doubtless see many lifetime loyal customers such as myself dump this supplier.

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