Over 200,000 passengers have used Emirates’ free on-board Wi-Fi since October this year, taking advantage of the airline’s service to connect with family, friends or colleagues when they fly.
On most Emirates A380s passengers can access 10MBs of free data, enough to send emails, blog, tweet, post on Facebook, or limited web browsing.
Emirates currently offers Wi-Fi connectivity on 86 aircraft – on board all of its 56 Airbus A380s, as well as on 30 of its Boeing 777s.
A comprehensive retrofit programme is also underway to install Wi-Fi capability across the rest of its fleet.
On 51 of Emirates’ A380s, the first 10MB of data is free, and a token $1 charge is levied for the next 500MB.
On all other aircraft, getting online costs US$1 due to the current hardware and software installed.
Until January 1st 2015, proceeds from these connection charges will be donated to the Emirates Airline Foundation to help improve quality of life for disadvantaged children around the world.
“Emirates sees inflight Wi-Fi as an essential value-add service that should be freely available for our customers to connect with friends, family and business.
“At the moment, software and technical limitations mean that on some of our aircraft we still have to levy a token charge for Wi-Fi.
“We are working hard to overcome this but until then, it is only $1 to get online.
“We’ve been providing free Wi-Fi and $1 Wi-Fi on the fleet since early October and up to 35 per cent of passengers are using the service, especially on long flights,” said Patrick Brannelly, Emirates vice president for corporate communications, product, publishing, digital and events.
“Most of our flights are long-haul international routes, and we know that many of our customers want to stay in touch when they travel.
“That is why Emirates has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in our inflight connectivity systems.
“We especially see a spike in mobile and Wi-Fi usage during major festive seasons, and we believe that our customers will welcome the fact that if they have to pay a $1 connection fee, proceeds will go towards supporting a good cause.
“We expect to collect and donate about US$40,000 to the Emirates Airline Foundation, but that amount could increase if more users log-on to Wi-Fi between now and the new year,” added Brannelly.
Since Emirates introduced on-board Wi-Fi three years ago, more than 600,000 passengers have connected to the service, and usage is rising in tandem with the growing penetration of mobile devices and changing lifestyles.
The industry leader in on-board connectivity, Emirates was the first airline to install in-seat telephones and on-board faxes back in 1995.
Today, customers on-board Emirates can connect to Wi-Fi, send emails and text messages via their personal ice entertainment system screens, as well as use their personal mobile devices to make calls and send messages.