A recent update to the Emirates inflight connectivity system means that all Emirates passengers in every class of travel can now avail of some form of free connectivity once they sign up to Emirates Skywards.

Skywards members, whether Blue, Silver, Gold, or Platinum tier, travelling in any class, whether economy, premium economy, business or first class can avail of free app messaging.

Additionally, first class passengers will have unlimited free internet if they are Skywards members, as will Silver, Gold and Platinum Skywards members travelling in business class.

Platinum Skywards members have complimentary internet access in all classes.

The airline said that it sees an average of 450,000 users per month use its on-board connectivity options. This represents a 30 per cent increase of passenger use in 2023 versus the same period last year. Currently almost 10 per cent of all passengers are utilising the complimentary on-board wifi. On routes through the Americas, Emirates said that almost 20 per cent of its passengers connect to the wifi, and on European and Africa routes the usage is more than 11 per cent of all passengers.

The free wifi connectivity onboard has resulted in an additional 30,000 economy class passengers connecting to complimentary on-board wifi every week, and the airline said that it has already invested more than US$300 million into on-board connectivity.

Patrick Brannelly, senior vice president of Retail, IFE and Connectivity, said, “In March we delivered about 55 per cent more data per customer session compared to early 2022 despite the number of sessions increasing by 68 per cent in the same period. We will continue to work to invest in upgrades and enhancements, and our A350 aircraft will arrive with the next generation of satellite connectivity already equipped.”

Emirates will offer new high-speed, inflight broadband powered by Inmarsat’s GX Aviation, onboard 50 new Airbus A350 aircraft scheduled to enter service in 2024.

The Airbus A350s will be the first Emirates aircraft to use Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) satellite network. Emirates also confirmed an investment of more than US$350 million to equip a 50-strong fleet of A350s coming in 2024 with enhanced passenger connectivity via Thales’ AVANT Up system and Optiq, the displays that feature two Bluetooth connections, built-in wifi for passengers to pair multiple devices including phones, tablets, headphones and even game controllers.

Another major UAE carrier, Etihad Airways, recently 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. 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.