International Airlines Group has today confirmed that WiFi will be rolled out across the short-haul and long-haul aircraft of its airlines: Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling.
To date, IAG airlines have adopted a piecemeal approach to WiFi. BA has WiFi on just one Boeing 747. Aer Lingus has WiFi on its transatlantic Airbus A330s. Iberia and Vueling also have WiFi on some aircraft.
On short-haul aircraft IAG is expected to adopt an Inmarsat “Air To Ground” system which should deliver fast internet access speeds. The first aircraft will be in service by 2017.
On long-haul aircraft, new deliveries of Airbus A330 (to Aer Lingus & Iberia), Airbus A350 (to British Airways and Iberia) and Boeing 787-10 (to British Airways) are expected to be fitted with WiFi.
IAG will also aim to retrofit 100 long-haul aircraft (primarily British Airways aircraft) with WiFi. IAG will target rolling out WiFi to 90% of long-haul aircraft by 2019.
The fit-out of WiFi on long-haul aircraft is likely to be subject to IAG being satisfied that the technology is sufficiently robust for the global long-haul networks of BA and Iberia and the cost of retrofitting aircraft makes the investment worthwhile
IAG has not yet indicated what pricing model it will adopt for WiFi, which is likely to vary by airline.
As well as providing passengers with in flight internet access and the opportunity for new In Flight Entertainment services, it will be interesting to see what customer service initiatives will arise as consequence of equipping cabin crews will in flight internet access.
We have to admit for having known for some time that British Airways has been trialling in-flight WiFi on a single Boeing 747 aircraft.
However, as there has been no way of knowing whether this aircraft will be available on a specific flight (we understand this was intentional) the trial has not been particularly newsworthy.
Based on this an update issued by BA it seems the trial is now being targeted to a single specific flight. That flight is BA183 from London Heathrow to New York JFK. However, we cannot currently verify that this is case.
Passengers travelling through all four of the current operational terminals at Heathrow will be able to access complimentary WiFi provided by the airport operator from Saturday 1 June 2014.
Access to the complimentary service is limited to 45 minutes a day. However, members of the Heathrow Rewards loyalty programme, formerly known as BAA Worldpoints, will be able to access the service for 90 minutes a day.
Registration for Heathrow Rewards is free and is clearly worth it just for the free WiFi.