British Airways and on-board Wifi.

In the past week I’ve had two press releases from British Airways promoting their on-board Wifi.

On the 2nd February, they said:

Staying connected is important to our customers who want to be able to work, browse and stream in the air. They can now look forward to enjoying the latest generation Wi-Fi across our long haul fleet over the next two years.

On the 4th February, they said:

To keep customers connected and to celebrate the launch of Wi-Fi on board, British Airways is partnering with Visa to connect customers on board the first W-Fi enabled flights. For a limited time, customers will be able to connect to high speed Wi-Fi enjoy an hour of free browsing and streaming, courtesy of Visa. Customers will be able to access Wi-Fi through connectivity service .air, when they board a connected aircraft, allowing them to browse and stream from the comfort of their seat.

Awesome!  Just about being a millennial (well probably I’m a xennial) the internet is really important to me.

Except, British Airways have a grand total of six aircraft with Wifi from a fleet of over 250. 🤦‍♂️

To be specific, there are only five 747-400s and one 777-300ER:

  • G-BYGC (747)
  • G-CIVR (747)
  • G-CIVS (747)
  • G-CIVV (747)
  • G-CIVX (747)
  • G-STBE (777-300ER)

None of their brand new 787 Dreamliners are fitted with it.  Nor any of their short-haul fleet.  The 747’s that are fitted are what are known as the 86J aircraft, or ones that that have more Club World seats.  These are generally the later aircraft deliveries to 1999, that are expected to fly until 2024.

The single remaining A318 aircraft flying from London City to New York does still have the OnAir GSM based system, allowing you to use mobile data, however that’s around 64kbit/s so next to useless.

So who does have internet fitted?  Over the North Atlantic, there’s a lot of choice:

  • Delta – their entire fleet
  • United – their entire fleet
  • American – their entire fleet
  • Virgin Atlantic – their entire fleet
  • Lufthansa – their entire fleet

Going east, it’s less clear cut however there’s still a substantial body of airlines:

  • Qatar Airways – A350 and A380 aircraft (not their 777s)
  • Emirates – All A380s and some 777s
  • Etihad – All A380s and 787s
  • Cathay Pacific – Only the A350s
  • Singapore Airlines – A380, A350 and most 777-300ERs
  • Japan Airlines – 767-300ER, 777-200 and 300ERs, 787s

I’m surprised British Airways would make such a song and dance about their limited offering if they didn’t want people to look more closely at the product.  In 2018, internet access on board is an essential offering and they’re clearly behind the competition.


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