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WI-FI usage on Airplanes: which costs to expect

For many air travellers, it has now become commonplace to stay connected to the internet despite enabling flight mode. This can be for in-flight entertainment or even for an important presentation that needs to be polished at the beginning of a business trip.

Many airlines offer in-flight mobile WI-FI services. It is advisable to check the applicable prices and the exact scope of these services beforehand. An overview is provided by the language learning provider Preply, which has compared the offerings of over 30 airlines to determine the costs of internet usage while in the air. On average, you can expect to pay between 5.45 euros and 22.47 euros for using the internet above the clouds.

The Airlines that have the highest WIFI Costs

To make the comparison as clear as possible, Preply focused on the maximum costs for each airline. By far, the most expensive offering comes from the American airline Delta Air Lines. A one-month subscription on domestic flights costs about 45.47 euros, while it costs 63.67 euros for worldwide flights. This usage option can be worthwhile for frequent flyers. Internet access is free for users of Sky Miles on Delta Air Lines. Additionally, different in-flight Wi-Fi systems are available for each flight, and the onboard connection must be booked in advance through a data pass.

AIRLINES teuerste wlan

Similarly, the usage with Swiss International Air Lines is also relatively expensive, with a maximum cost of 59.86 euros. Swiss International Airlines offers a total of four different tariffs for mobile internet usage. Up to 54.23 euros can be incurred for using mobile internet with American Airlines at the maximum price. Similar to Delta Air Lines, this is a subscription model that must be purchased for two months.

Air Canada is also among the top 10 most expensive airlines. The costs here amount to a maximum of 44.07 euros for a monthly subscription, but mobile WLAN is not consistently available. Coverage is guaranteed only for domestic flights within the USA; in Canada or Mexico, the volume depends on network coverage.

Using mobile WLAN with Air Europa is already cheaper, where you pay a maximum of 35 euros. However, the prices are dependent on the flight duration, and a total of three different tariffs can be booked.

Who has the cheapest WIFI?

Three of the surveyed airlines offer free WLAN: Air China, JetBlue Airways, and Nok Air allow passengers to surf for free during their journey. However, with Air China, the use of smartphones is prohibited; only  laptops and tablets are allowed to be connected to the WIFI.

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For those flying with the Spanish low-cost airline Vueling, the minimum price for using WIFI during the flight is only 5.99 euros. Norwegian Air charges a minimum fee of 8 euros, and for the German budget airline Eurowings, passengers pay at least 9.90 euros for in-flight surfing. In terms of usage, there are also no restrictions, allowing the wireless connection to be used throughout the entire flight duration.

Being a member also comes with the advantage of free WIFI usage with many airlines. This possibility is available for loyal customers of airlines such as Etihad, Emirates, Iberia, Singapore Airlines, Icelandair, Scandinavian Airlines, and Delta Airlines.

These airlines have the most fares

Airlines offer different tariffs based on flight duration and aircraft, which can vary in terms of price and offered data volume. Turkish Airlines provides an extensive selection with five available tariffs. The offerings differ from flight to flight, and there are also free programs for Business Class passengers and Miles & Smiles members.

Tap Air Portugal also offers several tariff options, with four choices available, and messaging is even free for Business Class travelers. Swiss International Airlines, ITA Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airlines, Aer Lingus, and Aeroflot also provide four different tariffs. Swiss International Airlines offers 50 MB for First Class passengers. ITA Airways allows for a maximum of 200 megabytes of data volume per flight. Most airlines, however, offer three different in-flight internet tariffs that can vary depending on flight duration and can sometimes be paid for using accumulated miles.

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Caution, there might be hidden costs!

Depending on the airline, using in-flight mobile WLAN can turn into a real cost trap. To ensure that no additional charges are incurred afterward, it's advisable to activate flight mode on your smartphone during the flight. This avoids the risk of your smartphone attempting to connect via roaming to a network other than your home network, such as networks provided by carriers like Telekom, Vodafone, or O2. In the airplane, this is often the onboard network. Since around 100 kilobytes of data volume can cost more than three euros, it's important to be cautious to prevent these costs from adding up. Currently, there is no cost limitation in the aircraft's mobile network. This is why the flight mode is still relevant and useful.

This article is from the 3/2023 issue of the magazine "Life Abroad".

The magazine is published four times a year free of charge with many informative articles on foreign topics.

It is published by the BDAE, the expert for protection abroad.