By Rafiq Vayani
DUBAI: A recent enhancement to Emirates’ inflight connectivity means that all Emirates passengers in every class of travel can enjoy some form of free connectivity once they sign up to Emirates Skywards. The development has resulted in an additional 30,000 Economy Class passengers connecting to complimentary onboard Wi-Fi every week.
Emirates has constantly been at the forefront of inflight Wi-Fi developments and has to date invested more than US$ 300 million dollars into onboard connectivity.
All Emirates Skywards members in every class of travel can now enjoy some form of free connectivity. Skywards members, whether Blue, Silver, Gold, or Platinum tier, travelling in any class, whether Economy, Premium Economy, Business or First Class will enjoy free app messaging. Additionally, First Class passengers will have unlimited free internet if they are Skywards members, enabling them to shop or work online while inflight, as will Silver, Gold and Platinum Skywards members travelling in Business Class. Platinum Skywards members have complimentary internet access in all classes.
The increase in free connectivity has been very well received by Emirates’ passengers following changes in January 2023 and the airline today sees an average of 450,000 users per month. This represents a 30% increase of passenger use in 2023 versus the same period last year. Currently almost 10% of all passengers are utilising the complimentary onboard Wi-Fi. On routes through the Americas, almost 20% of passengers connect to Wi-Fi onboard, and on European and Africa routes the usage is over 11% of all passengers.
Patrick Brannelly, SVP Retail, IFE & Connectivity commented: “Emirates has persistently worked with our service providers to optimise and improve the connectivity experience. In March we delivered about 55% more data per customer session compared to early 2022 despite the number of sessions increasing by 68% in the same period. We will continue to work to invest in upgrades and enhancements, and our A350 aircraft will arrive with the next generation of satellite connectivity already equipped.”
Emirates also announced that it will offer new high-speed, inflight broadband powered by Inmarsat’s GX Aviation, onboard 50 new Airbus A350 aircraft – scheduled to enter service in 2024. The new agreement will significantly improve the passenger experience with enhanced connectivity and greater global coverage, even on flights over the Arctic. The Airbus A350s will be the first Emirates aircraft to take advantage of Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) satellite network, which powers the world’s first and only globally available broadband network, ensuring passengers can enjoy uninterrupted global connectivity, no matter their destination, including the North Pole. The advanced high-speed capabilities of the broadband will enable Emirates passengers to stay connected with family and friends, browse the internet, and enjoy social media, all from the comfort of their seat. Emirates also confirmed an investment of over US$ 350 million to equip a 50-strong fleet of A350s coming in 2024 with enhanced passenger connectivity via Thales’ AVANT Up system and Optiq – the first smart display in the industry to offer two Bluetooth connections, built-in Wi-Fi for passengers to pair multiple devices including phones, tablets, headphones or even game controllers, while supporting up to 60 watts USB-C to fast-charge personal devices.
Passengers simply need to join Emirates Skywards – an easy and complimentary process, in order to access free Wi-Fi. Those interested can sign up via emirates.com, flydubai.com, through the official Emirates app, or the flydubai app and directly from the Wi-Fi portal onboard. Emirates Skywards has more than 30 million members worldwide, offering unmatched rewards in the air and on-ground including airlines, hotels, car rental, banks and a multitude of retail and lifestyle options. Emirates Skywards has won more than 50 industry awards for its innovative and world-class offerings, including Program of the Year in Europe, Middle East and Africa and Best Customer Service at the Frequent Traveller Awards 2021; World’s Leading Airline Rewards Programme at the World Travel Awards 2022; and ranked top 10 Best Frequent Flyer Program by USA TODAY 10 Best Readers’ Choice 2022.