Dec 3, 2012

Qantas no longer silent on internet shut down

Qantas has explained its commercially unsuccessful internet trial. But it won't rule out ruling it back in.

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Gone, but not banished forever, is the message from Qantas as it breaks its silence on the shock discovery earlier today that it had deemed its nine month trial on some A380 services a failure.

This is the Qantas response:

What hopes can the disconnected Qantas A380 travellers take from this, apart from that it will reconsider, in due course.

One point is that it ran the trial across the Pacific and maybe as it says, the night time desire for sleep was the critical factor in depressing demand.

If you are flying to the US night comes quickly, and passes quickly. You are on a long haul red-eye. The temptation to try and maximise the shorter hours of darkness compared to flying from the US may have distorted the result.

Coming back, it is going to be dark all or most of the way, for around 14 hours, so once you have slept as much as you can, or given up trying to, doing email and reading the news is probably a more welcome activity than it would be flying into the dawn.

Perhaps the same considerations work better flying to and from Dubai, since the A380 on the way there is flying with the night, and it just goes on and on and on, unless you are in the bar. And on the way back it leaves earlier in the day, and by the time you get close to Australia’s west coast, a short night rushes up but nothing is happening of interest at home because everyone there is asleep so why bother logging in anyhow?

It important to note that both the Qantas and Emirates internet services used the same On Air system.  If more than around 5% of a full flight is online at the same time the bandwidth available is going to be divided to less than impressive speeds anyhow.

Perhaps when Qantas changes its mind it will opt for a system which will allow a higher proportion of a full flight to get something more reliably fast at the outset, bringing the benefits of scale, speed and thus lower costs into play, feeding back into much better demand levels.

And maybe the fact that Emirates will have it, and Qantas won’t, might bring this about sooner rather than later.

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4 thoughts on “Qantas no longer silent on internet shut down

  1. moa999

    Does anyone else offer Internet over the Pacific routes where flying over land masses is rare?

    Presumably Etihad’s service is mostly ground based?

  2. NeoTheFatCat

    So, if the reasoning is no wifi because people are asleep at night, then why pay to install and offer in-flight entertainment. Presumably the same people who are sleeping and don’t need wifi also don’t need movies, games etc.

    Ben, I know that you have focussed on the need for business travellers, but there is also the connected generation to think about as well. For me, connection to online news, social media etc is just as much part of my daily ‘entertainment’ than watching some tired old release on a fixed screen – more so in fact.

  3. JJJ

    Nice to know they are going to address internet access on the ground. Hopefully the LAX lounges are at the top of the list as wifi access there has been a total disgrace for years.

  4. anonflightattendant

    What was their charging model?

    Perhaps if they made it complimentary up the front then they could maintain their premium product signature but recover some costs by charging for access down the back. Perhaps allow access to qantas.com or partner sites such as duty free for “free” with QF getting a clip of any purchases along the way. Surely it’s cheaper to have news sites accessible via the web, even if cached before departure, rather than handing out newspapers. I’d like to see more detail on the economics of the trial. Why on earth do they pay (presumably) Channel 9 for special editions of news etc when customers could just pull it down on streaming media if they really want it?

    Fact is, customers will ask for it, and Qantas has invested admirably in the international product of late. The airline shouldn’t sell itself short where technically possible.

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