Thai Airways brings WiFi, mobile phone services to the sky


Passengers will soon be able to make calls, use Facebook and tweet about their meals. Just like being in the office, really
Expect a surge of Instagram shots of airplane wings and inflight meals when Thai Airways launches its new on-board connectivity services later this year.
Thailand’s flag carrier announced it has teamed up with airline communications group OnAir to equip its aircraft with in-flight WiFi and mobile capabilities. The first flights are expected to offer the service in mid 2012, with full roll-out completed by 2014.
The services will initially be installed on six Airbus A380 and seven Airbus A330 aircraft that fly to European and regional destinations, including Japan. It is part of a major — and dare we say much needed — investment program to modernize Thai Airways’ in-flight products.
Passengers use the mobile service the same way as they would set up roaming when abroad for calls, text messages and email.

In-flight internet lets passengers use their laptops, or any WiFi enabled device, during a flight. It operates in the same way as a terrestrial hotspot, says OnAir. The passenger simply needs to enter credit card details and start surfing.
Rates and availability
Sounds pricey? In terms of phone calls, it depends on your mobile operator, says OnAir. Prices are usually in line with ground-based, overseas roaming charges.
As for internet rates, no figures for the Thai Airways flights have been released but users can expect price packages in line with what other international airlines are offering.
For instance Emirates, which launched its own in-flight connectivity services late last year, offers price plans starting at US$7.50 to use the internet on mobile devices and US$15 on laptops.
“The US$7.50 package should be sufficient for the average BlackBerry user to stay connected all the way from Dubai to Paris — a flight of more than six and a half hours,” said OnAir in a news release.
In-flight connectivity is no longer a rarity, with a slew of international airlines introducing it in the last two years. Last month, Qantas launched an 8-week trial for first class and business passengers, giving them access to the internet and emails inflight.
Other airlines already offering WiFi and mobile services to their passengers on international flights include British Airways, Oman Air, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, Lufthansa, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Egyptair, Libyan Airlines, AirAsia, TAM, Aeorflot, Air New Zealand, TAP Portugal and Emirates.


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