Almost half of the world’s aeroplanes are now equipped with Wi-Fi

Striking up a conversation with the person sat next to you on board a plane could soon be a thing of the past. It has recently been announced that Wi-Fi is now available on nearly half of the world’s aeroplanes. According to the latest annual report from Routehappy, Wi-Fi is now available on board 43% of aeroplanes courtesy of 82 airlines around the world.

What has led to the increase?

Thanks to the reduction in purchasing and hardware installation costs Wi-Fi is becoming more and more prevalent on aeroplanes worldwide. Even low-cost and ‘no-frills’ airlines now offering on-board connectivity. Brilliant news for travellers!

The latest annual report from US firm Routehappy shows that 82 carriers have fitted out their aeroplanes, meaning that 43% of all aircraft around the world now have a wireless connection. This figure reaches as high as 80% in the USA – the region with the highest proportion of planes with connectivity. This is good news for passengers, although the cost of this particular service varies enormously, according to Bloomberg.

Which airlines offer the best Wi-Fi?

According to the study, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Emirates offer the best Wi-Fi access, while 13 airlines provide the service on all of their long-haul flights. It also reveals that Airbus and Boeing are now integrating the latest generation of wireless technology in the construction of their new aircraft.

Connections and speed are improving

Routehappy, who operate out of New York, ranked the Wi-Fi services in three categories. They were categorized into “best”, “average” and “basic” (i.e. basic meant that streaming was not possible). According to the study, the last of those three categories is losing considerable appeal and is now only the case in a quarter of seats. This is a reduction of 16% compared with the previous year’s figures. The “best” category, which enables passengers to surf the net and access a multitude of media via streaming, now represents 57% of airline connection systems.

Quicker and cheaper networks

New satellite access providers such as Gogo, ViaSat and Inmarsat are proving incredibly popular, with a 129% increase in their services year-on-year. Jason Rabinowitz (data research manager at Routehappy) explains that the airlines are abandoning their heavy, under-performing Wi-Fi systems. He states that “Wi-Fi on board is now often cheaper and quicker than the Wi-Fi in many airports”.

The report also reveals that Delta has equipped over 350 of its aircraft with on-board Wi-Fi, strengthening its leadership position, ahead of United Continental, JetBlue Airways, Brazil’s GOL and Virgin Atlantic.

Prices vary according to the flight and airline

Something to be aware of is that there is a large discrepancy in prices for Wi-Fi services. Some airlines offer unlimited access, whilst others are time-restricted or based on the amount of data used.

Prices vary according to the type of Wi-Fi, even sometimes on the same airline, depending on whether it is a domestic or long-haul flight. These differences can prove costly, and so we recommend always being clear on exactly what services are on offer and the costs, before you start browsing.

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