UAE national carrier, Etihad Airways, has launched unlimited and free inflight social media messaging access on its widebody fleet.
By way of its Wi-Fly Chat packages, everyone flying on those aircraft will benefit from complimentary messaging throughout their entire flight by signing in with their Etihad Guest membership or by enrolling online before flying to benefit immediately.
The free chat feature includes access to messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Messenger, and WeChat, among others.
While the messaging app service is free for Etihad Guest members, non-members need to pay US$2.99 to access it throughout their flight if the travel duration is under seven hours and US$4.99 for flights whose duration is over seven hours.
Additionally, Etihad has rolled out Wi-Fly Surf packages that offer unlimited data access for a flat fee for the duration of the flight on its widebody aircraft.
For flights under seven hours, the Surf package costs US$9.99 for Etihad Guest members. For flights over seven hours, Etihad Guest members can avail of the Surf package for a fee of US$19.99.
Etihad Guest Platinum and Exclusive tier members as well as guests travelling in Etihad’s First Class cabins will benefit from complimentary Surf Wi-Fly access throughout their flight. Etihad Guest Gold members will receive a 25 per cent discount on the Surf package.
“Our fleet of modern widebody aircraft is fitted with the right technology to enable this service and offer our guests an enjoyable connected experience throughout their journey,” said Antonoaldo Neves, chief executive officer of Etihad Airways.
“We know how important it is for our guests to stay connected, which is why we’re thrilled to introduce an added complimentary benefit for Etihad Guest members and welcome everyone to sign up before they fly to take advantage of this benefit immediately. Wi-Fly plans will offer unlimited data and will last the duration of the flight, which means our guests can easily catch up on social media, work or browse as they wish,” added Neves.
While the new services are available on the carrier’s widebody aircraft, Etihad noted that its narrowbody fleet will continue to offer the current mobile connectivity service which allows guests to make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages and use their data roaming packages as they would on the ground.
Another major regional carrier, Turkish Airlines, recently rolled out a free messaging service for its customers on selected international flights. The benefit is initially available on all aircraft where internet access is provided by Turk Telekom, and will gradually be rolled out to all aircraft with internet connection. Passengers get “free and limitless” messaging through applications including WhatsApp, Messenger and iMessage.