In-flight wifi on Asia-Pacific airlines: what you need to know

Cathay Pacific business class

Air New Zealand

Wifi?
Launching second half of 2017

Pricing
Expected to be announced in first half of 2017

In October last year, Air New Zealand announced it would begin introducing inflight wifi on board its flights starting from the second half of 2017. Flights between New Zealand and Australia are set to be the first to receive the service, with wifi progressively being made available aboard its Tasman, Pacific Island and long-haul jet fleets from the end of 2017. Domestic flights will the last to get the service, with introduction set for 2018.

Traditionally low satellite service quality across oceanic areas (over which many of Air New Zealand’s flights travel) has meant the airline has held back on introducing an inflight wifi offering until a service of suitably high quality became available. The airline’s wifi will be provided by Inmarsat’s global GX satellite constellation, and integrated with the Air New Zealand’s Panasonic Avionics system.

airnewzealand.com

ANA

Wifi?
Yes

Class
Available to all classes

Aircraft
B777-300ER, B767-300ER (only those configured with 202 seats), B787-9, B787-8 (only those configured with 240 seats), A320neo

Pricing
B777-300ER and B767-300ER:

US$4.95 – 30 minutes, 15MB limit
US$8.95 – one hour, 30MB limit
US$19.95 – full flight, 100MB limit

B787-9, B787-8 and A320neo:

US$6.95 – 30 minutes
US$16.95 – three hours
US$21.95 – full flight (max 24 hours)

All Nippon Airways’ (ANA) inflight wifi offering gives access to functions such as web browsing and email functions. Video streaming is not supported, and image loading is likely to burn through your data quite quickly.

For travellers flying on ANA’s B777-300ER and B767-300ER, the service is only available when flying over transoceanic airspace and countries that permit the use of satellite activity, while B787 and A320 inflight connectivity is available in all airspaces.

ana.co.jp

Cathay Pacific

Wifi?
Yes

Aircraft
A350

Class
Available to all classes

Pricing
US$9.95 – one hour continuous use on all flights
US$12.95 – flights of six hours or less
US$19.95 – flights of six hours or more

Cathay Pacific currently offers wifi only on its fleet of A350s, the first of which it deployed to Auckland in October 2016. A few services are available complimentary – including the airline’s own website, its duty free catalogue, and destination information – though for functions such as general web browsing and email, a fee is required.

cathaypacific.com

China Airlines

Wifi?
Yes

Classes
Available to all classes

Aircraft
B777-300ER, A350

Pricing
TW$350 (US$11.6) – one hour
TW$500 (US$16.5) – three hours
TW$650 (US$21.5) – 24 hours

Inflight wifi on China Airlines has no data limit and while the overall speed may make certain functions difficult, this does provide reassurance for those that tend to quickly eat through data that they won’t be prematurely cut off from the service.

Purchasing wifi can be done on the flight or ahead of time via the airline’s website.

china-airlines.com

Eva Air

Wifi?
Yes

Classes
Available to all classes

Aircraft
B777-300ER (select aircraft)

Pricing
US$11.95 – one hour
US$16.95 – three hours
US$21.95 – 24 hours

It is worth noting that Taiwan-based Eva Air’s service provider is currently applying for an operating permit with the Chinese Government, however until then internet connectivity gets temporarily disconnected when flying over mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau with the carrier.

On the plus side, however, for longer journeys across multiple segments, travellers can re-connect to Eva Air’s wifi network using the same account information, provided the ensuing leg is also operated by an Eva Wifi-enabled aircraft.

evaair.com

Garuda Indonesia

Wifi?
Yes

Class
Available to all classes (complimentary for first class passengers)

Aircraft
B777-300ER, A330-300, A330-200

Pricing
US$11.95 – one hour, 30MB limit
US$16.95 – three hours, 50MB limit
US$21.95 – 24 hours (whole flight on A330-300 and A330-200), 100MB limit

Garuda Indonesia’s wifi offering is provided on a time-based system with varying caps depending on the duration. In addition to the service being complimentary to all first class passengers, those in other classes travelling on Garuda’s wifi-equipped Airbus aircraft are able to get 15 minutes’ free wifi connectivity.

While the service is suitable for social media as well as general web browsing, regular image loading will likely drain your data quite quickly.

garuda-indonesia.com

Japan Airlines

Wifi?
Yes

Aircraft
B777-300ER, B777-200ER, B767-300ER, B787

Class
Available to all classes (complimentary for first class passengers)

Pricing
US$10.15 – one hour
US$14.40 – three hours
US$18.80 – 24 hours

Japan Airlines offers inflight wifi based on overall duration used, with its 24-hour offering also including connecting flights for 24 hours from the initial log in. Data caps are also not present regardless of payment category.

A full list of the routes on which Japan Airlines offers wifi can be found here, with many only being available until and from certain dates. The airline’s fleet of B787s is also not fully equipped with wifi, so connectivity is not guaranteed, though travellers on these aircraft can check whether inflight wifi will be available on their flight the day before they travel.

jal.co.jp

Korean Air

Wifi?
No

Korea’s national carrier currently doesn’t offer inflight wifi across any of its aircraft, and has not issued plans to do so in the forseeable future.

In an interview with the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX), Korean Air’s senior innovation technology manager, Dante Dionne, shed some light on why this is the case: “In Korea, the wireless infrastructure is so advanced (significantly faster than the US average) that in-flight internet services based on existing commercial satellite technology would be disappointing to them. That is a primary reason why Korean Air has not implemented in-flight internet.”

koreanair.com

Malaysia Airlines

Wifi?
No

Malaysia Airlines also doesn’t offer inflight wifi on its flights at present. That said, the airline plans to introduce the service onboard its new A350s, the first of which it is expecting to take delivery of this year. Auckland is currently scheduled to be the first long-haul route served by its new A350. Details of the inflight wifi service have yet to be announced.

malaysiaairlines.com

Philippine Airlines

Wifi?
Yes

Class
Available to all classes

Aircraft
Select aircraft on international flights

Pricing
US$10 – 35MB/one hour
US$40 – 150MB/flight duration

Up until February 28, 2017, Philippine Airlines offered the first 30 minutes of inflight wifi (limited to 15MB) free of charge to all passengers. The hourly rate and data offered is also reasonably priced, compared to other airlines in Asia-Pacific.

The full-flight bracket, however, is particularly expensive. While it does offer 150MB of data (caps for full-flight/24-hour purchases typically stand at 100MB), the US$40 price is noticeably more expensive than most other carriers in the region.

Purchases can be made either by credit card or by purchasing a scratch card from cabin crew.

philippineairlines.com

Qantas

Wifi?
Domestic trials began April 7, 2017

Class
Available to all classes on domestic flights

Aircraft
One wifi-enabled B737-800 aircraft; to be rolled out to 80 aircraft by end of 2018

Pricing
Free

Qantas launched a beta mode of its new Viasat and Nbn’s Sky Muster-enabled inflight wifi service earlier this month. Outfitted on a single B737-800 aircraft that will be flying domestic routes during the trial phase, the high-speed wifi is being offered free of charge for travellers on board the aircraft (due to likely last-minute changes, the specific routes the aircraft will be flying are subject to change, and passengers won’t be able to select a flight on board the wifi-enabled aircraft at this time).

Perhaps the most notable two features of Qantas’ new wifi offering are its speed and its price. Qantas claims that the new offering will be ten times faster than conventional onboard wifi, enabling functions such as video and music streaming (services such as Netflix, Spotify, Stan and Foxtel will be available through partnerships). The other is that the airline aims to keep the service included as part of the ticket fare.

Qantas expects to roll out wifi across 80 of its aircraft, for completion by the end of 2018. The airline is also currently in discussions with suppliers to develop a product for its international fleet.

qantas.com.au

Singapore Airlines

Wifi?
Yes

Aircraft
A380, A350, B777-300ER (progressively)

Class
Available to all classes

Pricing
Volume-based (all A380 and select B777-300ER)

US$6.99 – 15MB
US$12.99 – 30MB
US$19.99 – 50MB

Time-based (All A350 and select B777-300ER)

US$11.95 – one hour
US$16.95 – three hours
US$21.95 – 24 hours

Singapore Airlines has a somewhat confusing pricing structure regarding its inflight wifi, owing largely to its partnership with two different providers, Onair and Panasonic. As such, price plans come in two variations, depending on provider and the type of aircraft – volume based or time based.

Prices tend to be more expensive than the majority of other Asia-Pacific airlines – most notably its highest-volume 50MB bracket offering about half as much data as that offered by most other airlines’ top bracket (100MB), but still costing a similar price.

What’s also worth noting here is that volume-based plans are only valid for the leg on which they are purchased. An onward journey, even if it is on the next sector of the same flight, requires another purchase. Time-based purchases, however, can be transferred across multi-sector flights.

singaporeair.com

Thai Airways

Wifi?
Yes

Class
Available to all classes

Aircraft
A350-900XWD, A380-800, A330-300

Pricing
US$4.99 – 10MB
US$8.99 – 20MB
US$12.99 – 30MB
US$34.99 – 100MB

Thai Airways offers inflight wifi on a number of its aircraft, with its A350s powered by Panasonic and its A380 and A330s provided by Sitaonair. The airline’s six wifi-enabled A380s currently operate flights to Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo Narita, London and Hong Kong.

Meanwhile its seven wifi-enabled A330s fly to Tokyo Narita, Taipei-Seoul, Hong Kong, Taipei, Yangon, Beijing, Hanoi, Dubai, Ho Chi Minh City, Tokyo Haneda, Kuala Lumpur and Fukuoka.

The airline’s data-based rather than duration-focused pricing structure may confuse some flyers less familiar with average data-consumption rates. As a rough guide, 10MB will likely get you through roughly 30 minutes of general web browsing and email. Similarly to Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways’ prices are also quite expensive compared to many other Asia-Pacific airlines, with its US$34.99 for 100MB top-tier price being noticeably pricier than most other carriers’ highest wifi brackets.

thaiairways.com

Virgin Australia

Wifi?
Domestic trials began April 20, 2017

Class
Available to all classes

Aircraft
One wifi-enabled B737-800; to be rolled out across B737-800s, A330s and B777s

Pricing
To be confirmed after trial period completes

Less than two weeks after rival Australian carrier Qantas began trialling a new domestic inflight wifi offering, Virgin Australia launched its own domestic three-month testing period using the same aircraft, a B737-800. During the testing period, passengers will be able to use the wifi free of charge, though the final pricing of the service has yet to be announced and will be determined following customer feedback during the trial.

As with Qantas’ wifi offering, Virgin Australia’s will support video and music streaming, notably through Netflix, Pandora and Stan. Unlike Qantas’, however, Virgin Australia’s wifi is expected to be rolled out across its fleet of B737-800s, A330s and B777s for both domestic and international flights.

virginaustralia.com

Eva Air’s new Chicago service to go daily

Buildings along the Chicago River

Eva Air’s Taipei-Chicago service will be getting a flight frequency bump this summer, as the Taiwanese carrier looks to increase its number of flights from four times weekly to daily, according to industry website airlineroute.net.

Eva Air had originally planned to increase the number of flights on the Boeing 777-300ER-operated route starting May 5, however this has now been revised to May 29.

The route between Taipei Taoyuan Airport (TPE) and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) is new, having been launched at the beginning of November last year.

Details of the expanded service are as follows (all times local):

Flight No.FromToDepartsArrivesDays
BR056TPEORD19502100Daily
BR055ORDTPE00300445+1

evaair.com

Eva Air now supports Rimowa e-tag baggage check in

Taiwanese carrier Eva Air has become the first Asian airline to introduce luggage brand Rimowa’s electronic baggage tags into its check-in procedures. The concept was first launched with Rimowa partner airline Lufthansa in March this year and Eva Air is now the second airline worldwide to integrate the Rimowa technology.

Passengers are able to use the Eva Air Mobile App to check in their bags remotely from any location. The app connects to a digital tag built into the luggage itself and confirms flight and passenger information. Travellers then are able to drop their luggage at designated online check-in counters at participating airports.

The service will be available to passengers departing from the following locations: San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA), Houston (IAH), New York (JFK), Vancouver (YVR), Toronto (YYZ), Paris (CDG), Vienna (VIE), Tokyo (HND) and all international airports in Taiwan. However, the service will not be available to passengers flying Eva Air’s Taipei-London route due to government regulations.

While the new electronic luggage check in system currently supports only iOS operating systems, the airline soon will be expanding the service to include Android. Eva Air also aims to make the service available at additional airports in the future.

evaair.com

Eva Air and Air India begin codeshare

Taipei

Taiwanese carrier Eva Air has begun codesharing with Air India, connecting Mumbai with Taipei through Bangkok and Singapore.

Eva Air and Air India are now using both airlines’ flight numbers on Eva-operated flights from Taipei to Bangkok and Singapore, in addition to Air India-operated Bangkok and Singapore to Mumbai connections.

The Taiwanese airline currently offers 24 flights a week to Bangkok and two daily to Singapore, while Air India operates daily flights to Mumbai.

The codeshare comes as Eva Air has been expanding its international network, including launching a new four-times-weekly non-stop Taipei-Chicago service in November and increasing the frequency of its Taipei-Paris service to daily in July.

Meanwhile Air India’s budget subsidiary Air India Express began flights between Kolkata and Singapore in November and launched a Chennai-Singapore service in October.

evaair.com; airindia.com

Eva Air unveils new Gudetama-themed livery

Eva Air Gudetama Comfort Flight

Taiwanese carrier Eva Air launched a new Gudetama-themed aircraft livery on Thursday, adding to the airline’s existing Hello Kitty and Sanrio-character services.

The new Gudetama Comfort liveried flights will operate on regional and short-haul routes within Asia, starting with Tokyo Narita, and will be sported by its Airbus A321-200 – the first specially painted A321 aircraft in Eva Air’s fleet. The airline configures these aircraft with a total of 184 seats, including eight in business and 175 in economy class.

Speaking about the new livery, Eva Air president Derek Chen, said: “Since Eva and Sanrio launched our first generation of Hello Kitty Jets in 2005, our specially painted aircraft have been popular among our passengers all over the world. To keep our themed flights fresh, lively and fun for our passengers, we chose superstar Gudetama to join our fleet.”

Japanese company Sanrio is known for developing products sporting popular cartoon characters, of which Hello Kitty is its most well known. The character of Gudetama, one of the company’s newest and more popular creations, is depicted sporting travel accessories and packing bags ahead of a trip.

“Different from the sweet image of Hello Kitty, Gudetama symbolises a laidback, relaxed style of travel. With Eva, travel is easy, comfortable, reliable and completely relaxing. It’s a travel style that’s perfect for busy people with hectic schedules. Our new Gudetama plane also equips us to offer more variety and attract more passengers.”

In addition to the livery, the character is also present inside the aircraft, including on aprons worn by flight attendants along with headrest covers, pillows, menus, hand towels, tray mats, napkins, cutlery and crockery, slippers and playing cards, among others. Passengers can also purchase aircraft models and travel kits from the airline’s online store and collect them on board.

The new jet joins the carrier’s four existing regional Hello Kitty planes that operate on flights from Taiwan to Japan, South Korea and Mainland China, along with its two other themed Boeing 777-300ERs on flights to Paris and Houston.

Details for the new Gudetama flight are as follows (all times local):

Flight NoFromToDepartsArrivesDays
BR196Taipei TaoyuanTokyo Narita15201920Daily
BR195Tokyo NaritaTaipei Taoyuan20202325

evaair.com

Eva Air launches Taipei-Chicago service

EVA Air B777-300ER

Taiwanese carrier Eva Air launched its new non-stop Taipei-Chicago service on Wednesday (November 2, 2016), making the city the airline’s eighth gateway in North America.

The route’s inaugural flight arrived at Chicago O’Hare International Airport at 1600 local time on Wednesday following a 14-hour flight from Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport, which carried approximately 300 passengers including the airline’s president, Derek Chen.

“We have steadily developed, expanded and upgraded our global network and Chicago is an important link,” said Chen. “After we launch service to Chicago and add flights on other North America routes, Eva will be offering 80 flights a week to Asia by the end of the year. Our flight frequency will outnumber that of every other airline in this market.”

Eva will be deploying Boeing B777-300ER on the route, which it will service four times weekly. The B777-300ER is configured with 333 seats – 39 in Royal Laurel Class (business), 56 in Elite (premium economy) and 238 in economy – and features in-flight wifi and the latest entertainment systems.

Details for the service are as follows (all times local):

Flight No.FromToDepartsArrivesDays
BR056TaipeiChicago20051955Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun
BR055ChicagoTaipei00200600+1Mon, Wed, Thu, Sat

The Chicago route is the latest in a series of service expansions to North America from the airline. On October 3 this year, Eva Air increased the frequency of flights on its Taipei-New York (JFK) service from ten times weekly to twice daily, following an earlier increase from daily to ten times weekly back in July. Meanwhile its Taipei-Seattle route will increase from seven flights weekly to ten, starting November 19, 2016.

Fancy winning a trip to North America aboard an Eva Air flight? Then check out Business Traveller Asia-Pacific’s November competition for your chance to win two free Elite Class tickets with Eva Air from Hong Kong to a destination in the US or Canada of your choice.

evaair.com

Five special aircraft liveries

ANA C-3PO-themed livery

C3-PO ANA Jet
C-3PO ANA Jet

INTRODUCED July 2016; launching March 2017

AIRCRAFT B777-200

INFO As part of its five-year partnership with The Walt Disney Company (Japan), ANA has already had two of its aircraft wrapped in special themed liveries featuring Star Wars’ R2-D2 and BB-8. Meanwhile, everybody’s favourite gold protocol droid, C-3PO will soon join the line-up by being featured on a B777-200. The C-3PO-themed aircraft will begin flying domestic routes in Japan from March 2017.

ana.co.jp

 

Eva Air Hello Kitty-themed livery

EVA Air Hello Kitty B777
EVA Air Hello Kitty B777

INTRODUCED 2005

AIRCRAFT A330, B777

INFO Eva Air’s “Hello Kitty” aircraft is as synonymous as the airline itself, with the iconic branding having been an important part of the carrier’s fleet since 2005. Passengers that have flown on these aircraft before will know what to expect onboard, but for the uninitiated, expect to find the cute little feline everywhere – from the cushions in economy to the tableware in business class.

evaair.com

 

Turkish Airlines Euro 2016 livery

Turkish Airlines EURO
Turkish Airlines EURO livery

INTRODUCED April 2016

AIRCRAFT A330-300

INFO Portugal may have already lifted the Euro 2016 trophy, but Turkish Airlines’ Euro-themed livery can still be seen in the air. The A330-300, which has been wrapped in the tournament’s colours, is flying to selected destinations within the Star Alliance member’s network.

turkishairlines.com

 

KLM “Orange Pride” livery

klm
KLM’s “Orange Pride”

INTRODUCED June 2016

AIRCRAFT B777-300

INFO KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has taken national pride to whole new level by introducing its “Orange Pride” livery. The new livery, which is now featured on a B777, is currently operating flights within the airline’s network. However, with effect from early August, the aircraft will begin serving the Amsterdam–Rio de Janeiro route during the 2016 Summer Olympics.

klm.com

 

TAM Disney-themed livery

TAM Disney livery
TAM Disney livery

INTRODUCED February 2016

AIRCRAFT B767-300

INFO For passengers flying with Brazilian carrier TAM to Orlando earlier this year, the journey to Walt Disney World started on the plane. Along with a colourful livery that features classic Disney characters such as Mickey, Minnie and Donald, the in-flight experience was also adapted to deliver a touch of Disney magic. This included offering Mickey mouse-shaped food and cabin crew wearing Minnie mouse headbands and gloves.

latam.com

EVA Air’s feline ambassador to grace Paris

EVA Air will begin flying a Hello Kitty B777-300ER from Taipei to Paris next month. Named “Sanrio Family Hand in Hand”, it is the first B777 in the Hello Kitty fleet, and has been operating on the Taipei-Los Angeles since last September (see here).

The cartoon-emblazoned aircraft will serve the US route until October 27 (when a normal B777-300ER will take over) and fly to the French capital starting from October 29.

The aircraft will depart Taiwan Taoyuan International airport every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, while the return flight leaves Paris Charles De Gaulle on Monday, Thurday and Saturday.

Seats, amenities, plus food and drinks will all feature a Hello-Kitty design. Cabin crew will also wear the cartoon apron when serving passengers.

The carrier teamed up with Sanrio, the agent of the cartoon cat, to dress up a number of its A330s in Hello Kitty motifs in 2011 (see here). There are currently five Hello Kitty A330s flying to Asian destinations, including Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

For more information, visit evaair.com

Valerian Ho