In the first three years since Emirates launched inflight Wi-Fi connectivity, over half a million passengers have connected to the internet onboard an Emirates flight, and this demand is expected to increase exponentially.
Emirates, a global connector of people and places, and the largest international airline, today invests over US$20 million annually on installing and operating inflight connectivity systems which enable onboard Wi-Fi services. Onboard Wi-Fi is available on all of Emirates’ 53 A380s and on 28 Boeing 777s, which serve routes across six continents. The airline also has an aggressive retrofit programme which will eventually see its entire fleet Wi-Fi enabled. Importantly, Emirates is subsidizing or waiving the high cost of buying data for passenger use.
On most Emirates flights equipped with Wi-Fi, passengers enjoy the first 10MBs of data for free, which is sufficient for most travelers to check in on their social media accounts. Subsequently, a token US$1 charge is imposed for the next 600MB. Emirates is updating its software programming to eventually enable passengers to have unlimited free access to Wi-Fi. On a few of its A380s and 777s, it is not currently possible to offer the first 10MB free for technical reasons, but the airline is working hard to resolve the issue in the coming months.
In October, Emirates saw a daily average of 3,500 passengers using onboard Wi-Fi, at an average of 28MB per user. The highest number of Wi-Fi users on a single Emirates flight was recorded on an A380 with 153 passengers connecting, and the highest internet volume recorded on a single flight was nearly 8,000MB from 26 users onboard a Boeing 777 flight. The airline saw a 200% spike in Wi-Fi usage in the month of October, due to a free Wi-Fi promotion to mark the Eid holidays.
Passengers onboard Emirates also have other ways to stay connected with in-seat sms and email, as well as mobile phone services. All of Emirates’ 36 dedicated airport lounges around its global network, offer complimentary Wi-Fi connectivity.