Smartphones rule as Emirates sets a wi-fi record

April 11, 2018
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Smartphones are the overwhelmingly the device of choice when it comes to in-flight internet, according to an analysis of a record monthly usage by passengers of Gulf carrier Emirates.

The Dubai-based airline reached a new milestone in March when more than 1 million connections were made on its flights and more than 94 percent were made on smartphones.

Another 2 percent of connections were made through a tablet, with the remainder on laptops and other devices.

Apple users made twice as many connections as their Android counterparts.

Emirates now has wi-fi on 98 percent of its fleet and customers in all cabins receive 20MB of data for free.

More than nine out 10 passengers took advantage of the free 20MB offer but the airline did not say how many went on to buy access. Emirates offers up to 150MB of data for $US9.99 and up to 500MB for $US15.99.

Resistance is futile: Inflight wi-fi is becoming ubiquitous.

The airline’s frequent flyer members can get free access, depending on their tier and class of travel, or reduced rates.

Blue, Silver Gold, and Platinum members all get unlimited free wi-fi when traveling in first and business class and the highest data usage by a single passenger was from a Skywards member who consumed 4.9GB of complementary data on a flight between Dubai and Johannesburg in South Africa.

The route with the most wi-fi connections in March was Dubai-Los Angeles with more than 6000 customers connecting during the flight.

The Emirates wi-fi has been criticised for being slow and the airline’s website warns users to avoid streaming, not to use send pictures and to use apps instead of browsers.

It has signed a deal with Thales to equip its Boeing 777X fleet to give customers “best in class” connectivity with speeds of up to 50Mbps when the planes start arriving in 2020.

“Emirates continually invests in improving bandwidth on board by upgrading the connectivity solution on the fleet,’’ the airline said. “Staying connected has become a mainstay and an expectation on Emirates flights and the demand for Wi-Fi on board has been steadily increasing each month.”