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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Thai Airways Set To Launch Sky Connect Inflight Internet Service

Thai Airways is gearing up to launch its Sky Connect satellite Internet service in the coming months, which will no doubt result in a surge of mile-high Twitter updates and Instagram snaps of inflight meals.

Sky Connect "is planned to be introduced in the near future", a Thai Airways spokeswoman confirmed to Australian Business Traveller, across the airline's Airbus A380 and A330-300 fleet. This will include selected regional flights around Asia as well as Thai's long-distance international routes.

Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commissions (NBTC) has recently granted Thai a 'WiFi license' which is required to begin inflight service, the spokesperson said.

The required hardware has already been fitted into the aircraft by specialist provider OnAir, with passengers able to choose between the Internet OnAir and Mobile OnAir systems.

Internet OnAir 

Works like any pay-to-use WiFi hotspot you'd find in an airport or cafe: enter your credit card details and start surfing with your laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Mobile OnAir 

is more akin to global roaming on your phone for making and receiving text messages, email, mobile data – and, yes, phone calls. (So unless you want to return home to a hefty data bill, make sure your phone's roaming function is switched off before you step on that plane.)

Thai hasn't yet revealed how much you'll pay for a shot of sky-high surfing.

However, as a ballpark figure, Emirates' plans range from US$7.50 for 5MB to US$25 for 100MB; Singapore Airlines charges US$10 for 10MB of data and US$25 for 30MB; while Etihad's Wi-Fly service is billed according to time, with US$14 for one hour and US$25 for a 24-hour pass.

Qantas trialled inflight Internet on selected Airbus A380 routes for nine months in 2012 but decided against introducing the satellite-based service, citing a lacklustre response from travellers.

"Whilst customers who used the Wi-Fi service told us that they valued the option to connect in flight, overall the trial has demonstrated a lower than expected take-up of the service, particularly on overnight flights where sleep was their priority" a Qantas spokeswoman told Australian Business Traveller at the time, with average take-up during the trial sitting at "less than 5 per cent."

"Naturally, the costs associated with offering a reliable internet connection in-flight are significantly higher than on the ground, particularly when you are flying over vast expanses of ocean and can’t connect to ground towers."

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Live to love and love to live. The motto that I held on my entire life. Just a regular guy who loves what I am passionate in life. A song writer and producer. Living life on the move. From Malaysia to The States, New Zealand to Singapore. With the companion of great people in life. In and out from the music industry. Taking everything one step at a time. 
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