Emirates currently provides free Wi-Fi to all of its passengers on equipped flights, with different amounts depending on your elite status and cabin class. For example, all elite members receive unlimited Wi-Fi in business or first class, and Gold and Platinum Skywards members receive unlimited Wi-Fi even in economy. But because many people in this blog’s audience are not elite members with Emirates, you probably had to make do with a small 10 MB allowance.
That’s changing, according to news from Business Traveler. The basic free Wi-Fi allowance will increase to 20 MB, which can be accessed for up to 2 hours after the first time you sign on. To use the Wi-Fi network for longer periods or for more data, you’ll need to pay. Prices range from $5-15 for an additional 150 MB and from $8-16 for an additional 500 MB, again dependent on cabin class and status.
Twenty MB is more data than you might think. I checked my mobile data plan with Verizon, and for most of the past month I’ve used less than 1 MB per day. Only occasional spikes cause me to purchase a larger plan for protection. If you’re checking your email without attachments, and possibly making light use of social media, I expect you’d be fine. Surfing FlyerTalk is out, and streaming music and video is obviously a bad idea. You shouldn’t be doing that on a plane’s limited network anyway — use the in-flight entertainment or download in advance.
I think this is a welcome improvement for the majority of travelers who just need to check-in with their contacts during a long flight. It also makes the travel experience even better on a carrier that tends to focus on long-haul routes to and from its hub in Dubai.