Qantas says 15 737-800s now equipped with WI-FI, with cricket to be streamed live this summer

Australia's men's and women's cricketers pose with Qantas staff in front of a Boeing 737-800. (Qantas)
Australia’s men’s and women’s cricketers pose with Qantas staff in front of a Boeing 737-800. (Qantas)

Qantas says it has installed inflight internet WI-FI on 15 Boeing 737-800s as it prepares to live stream this summer’s Ashes cricket series, while work on equipping its fleet of domestic A330 aircraft with connectivity to commence in early 2018.

The airline said on Friday it expected to have 80 aircraft – a combination of 737-800s and A330s – fitted with the technology to offer WI-FI on domestic flights by the end of 2018.

A file image of a Qantas Boeing 737-800 having its radome installed at the airline's Brisbane workshop. (Qantas)
A file image of a Qantas Boeing 737-800 having its radome installed at the airline’s Brisbane workshop. (Qantas)

Qantas began offering WI-FI on its Australian services in April, starting with one 737-800, VH-XZB. The airline has partnered with ViaSat and the National Broadband Network for its inflight internet service, which uses the high capacity Ka-band satellites and is offered free to all passengers.

Since the official launch, the oneworld alliance member has been gradually equipping more aircraft with the necessary hardware, such as a radome located to the rear of the fuselage just in front of the tail, and conducting more tests on the technology.

Qantas flicked the switch on inflight internet WI-FI in April. (Qantas)
Qantas flicked the switch on inflight internet WI-FI in April. (Qantas)

“The customer trial on our first WI-FI aircraft helped us fine-tune the system and we’re pleased to be switching the system on across the domestic fleet,” Qantas chief customer officer Olivia Wirth said in a statement.

“When it is complete, 15 million passengers a year will be able to stay connected in the air.”

Qantas has 67 Australian registered 737-800s that operate on domestic and international routes. In addition, eight New Zealand-registered ZK- 737 are flown by Qantas’s New Zealand subsidiary Jetconnect.

The oneworld alliance member was working through details for its international operations.

Qantas also announced on Friday a partnership with Cricket Australia to offer live coverage of the upcoming Ashes Test series between Australia and England, as well as international limited overs and Twenty20 matches featuring both the national men’s and women’s side. Domestic Twenty20 matches are also part of the arrangement, which covers 75 matches in total.

Backyard cricket at the Qantas jet base at Mascot. (Qantas)
Backyard cricket at the Qantas jet base at Mascot. (Qantas)

Also, a dedicated channel on Qantas’s inflight entertainment system will launch in January with features on memorable Ashes cricket matches, player profiles and match highlights from the archives.

The airline is a Cricket Australia sponsor.

Separately, Qantas said passengers on WI-FI available aircraft would now have free access to streaming service Netflix for three months. Existing customers of Netflix would also be able to get three months free on their current accounts.

Previously, Qantas and Netflix were offering a free 30-day trial.

Virgin Australia, which also started offering connectivity on one 737-800 in April, has said previously it was in the process of installing WI-FI on its 737-800s, with the majority of the fleet to be equipped by the end of 2018.

Also, the airline said in early November it expected to be offering inflight internet WI-FI on international flights between Australia and Los Angeles on board one Boeing 777-300ER before the end of 2017. It will be the only Australian airline to offer WI-FI on international services.

Comments

  1. GAGA says

    I didn’t think modern airline flights could get anymore boring. But it’ll be more boring than ever with Cricket shown on board.

  2. Ben says

    Yes – good way to get to sleep.

    What is the go of playing backyard cricket at the Qantas jet base? If it was genuine, what about the risk to airframe damage from a well targeted hit?

    An overblown publicity stunt IMHO. Qantas are carrying on like by providing inflight internet connectivity, they’ve somehow discovered how to make fire or invented the wheel. Honestly, I couldn’t care less. Lots of reports about QF getting it’s mo jo back recently. If cricket is the most they can come up with, then it’s not terribly exciting. If they were truly innovative, they would have been looking at inflight internet connectivity and/or a decent IFE system 15-20 years ago. It just looks like they’re playing catch up. QF are sadly no longer an industry leader. It’s going to take a lot more mo jo for that to happen.

  3. Adzzaman says

    What are the odds of getting the only 7 people in Australia who don’t like cricket posting in the same article?!

    Nice one Qantas. Another happy customer here!

  4. neil says

    bitch and moan all you want. don’t like it, don’t watch it, pretty simple really. theres more than 1 channel……..

  5. Stu Bee says

    The comments to this article are better than the actual article….

    Yes Ben, they ripped in and had a red hot go at playing backyard cricket at Qantas jet Base… One hand one bounce off the tail…..

  6. Mick says

    Ha ha @ben – like inflight connectivity even existed 15 years ago!

    Today you can stream Netflix inflight (not many airlines have this – many airlines who do have connectivity don’t have the bandwidth to stream video – if you’re lucky you get your emails – so that makes it a good IFE system too – 2 for the price of 1!)

    I guess you can spend your next flight worrying that the airframe you’re on was damaged by a stray cricket ball.

    I guess it’s true – some people are just never happy!

    Good work Qantas – don’t let the haters get you down!

  7. Geoff says

    Good idea QANTAS. Cricket is our National game, so why not?

    It’s all about people being occupied for hours. Plenty to look at on other channels if you don’t like cricket.

    People in the 1960’s 707’s didn’t complain about certain sport on IFE.! Seems like some don’t know how lucky they are!

    Maybe time to reflect?

  8. Ben says

    @Mick – Inflight internet connectivity was a concept in 2000 – 2001. So in fact 16-17 years ago. I’ve said 15-20 years ago for Internet or IFE. Certainly 20 years ago, seat back IFE was a viable concept that was becoming widely more used. The first seat back IFE system was available in 1988. Close to 30 years ago. Ha ha indeed.

    I’m far from being a Qantas hater. I’m simply pointing out that what they’re announcing at the moment is hardly ground breaking or innovative. Particularly for a premium carrier that has always prided itself on being a market leader. If they were truly a market leader, they would have explored or implemented these changes much sooner.

    The airframe damage by a stray cricket ball was said somewhat in jest. It just seemed a bit of a strange photo-op in an overblown bit of publicity.

    So I’m not a hater, just an interested aviation enthusiast. Better that than some people who just simply seem to applaud whatever Qantas does no matter what it is. Qantas is not perfect and shouldn’t be immune to criticism.

  9. James says

    @ Ben

    It’s an announcement. They’re not even saying it’s ground breaking or smashing records. They are advising the travelling public with what they are up to and AA run the story.

    Have a look over your posts mate. You come across as a hater. If you’re an enthusiast as you say you are, be happy with what is on offer. Australia is always a few years behind the USA and others.

    I’m a cricket fan and would personally love to watch the special programming QF are running over the summer.

    Support the industry you are an enthusiast of, enjoy aviation and if you don’t like the QANTAS product then don’t fly it.

  10. Stef says

    I’m not interested in cricket and I won’t be watching it. But that’s not the issue for me.

    What bothers me is that when I’m flying I want peace and quiet – either to relax, take a nap, or read a book, or indeed work. I won’t be able to do any of that with screaming fans all around me (compare screaming babies!)! What is QF going to do to keep people quiet and civilised during an ‘exciting’ match?

  11. Ben says

    @James I take your point, to some extent.

    However I would say that anything I have said against Qantas is not said out of hate, but of disappointment.

    I am not a hater. For the record I actually like a lot of what Qantas does and what it represents. It’s a national icon. I like the way they’ve introduced things recently like the retro roo liveries and I’m looking forward to seeing how game-changing the PER-LHR flights will be.

    I would say that I am guilty of maybe holding Qantas to a higher standard. That is only because they’ve held themselves to a higher standard. They are the national airline and a premium legacy carrier.

    I am an enthusiast, however I do acknowledge that any investment or change in things such as IFE/Inflight Internet takes a while to roll out, across such a large fleet,

    So I’m definitely not a hater, maybe just a little bit harsh towards QF in this instance, As you say, it’s an announcement. On reflection, I’m prepared to cut them a break 🙂