For a couple of years, British Airways has been beavering away, adding WiFi capabilities to its aircraft. However, around a year ago, only 30% of the airline’s short-haul fleet had the technology installed compared to 64% of the long-haul fleet. How does that stack up a year later?
WiFi is slowly becoming a must-have accessory for full-service carriers, in addition to some low-cost carriers. Indeed, in a 2018 survey by Inmarsat, 67% of passengers said that they were more likely to rebook if an airline offered WiFi. Yesterday British Airways revealed that its High Life magazine would be moved online. However, to download it on a plane, you need WiFi.
Firstly, the long-haul fleet
Let’s start by looking at the long-haul fleet. In general, it would make much more sense for airlines first to target their longer flights from the passenger point of view. After all, WiFi will be much more appreciated on an eight-hour flight than a quick one hour hop.
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The folks over at FlyerTalk have been keeping a keen eye on the British Airways WiFi installation process. According to their data, British Airways has 105 long-haul aircraft. Of these, 95 aircraft have WiFi installed. This equates to 90% of the fleet.
Still to have the service installed are four Boeing 787-9 aircraft and six Boeing 787-8 aircraft. Although one 787-8, G-ZBJI, is already in Cardiff to have the equipment installed. While the current situation affecting the aviation industry is mostly negative, the retirement of the airline’s Boeing 747s has sped up the roll-out process by reducing the number of aircraft without WiFi fitted.
What about the short-haul fleet?
Unfortunately, you are slightly less likely to be able to benefit from WiFi on the shorter-range Airbus A320 family aircraft. The airline has 142 aircraft from the families. However, it has completed the installation of WiFi technology, according to FlyerTalk.
Your chances of having an aircraft with WiFi on these aircraft depends on the member of the A320 family that you get. The airline isn’t planning to install the technology on its older aircraft already in the line for retirement.
Of the airline’s 35 A319s, 12 have WiFi fitted. This means you will have just a one in three chance of getting WiFi on one of these aircraft. Meanwhile, 61 our to 67 Airbus A320s have WiFi installed. This equates to 91% of the fleet.
Your chances are also reasonably good on the A321. Of the 18 A321s, British Airways has 15, or 83%, have WiFi installed. If you are flying on one of the airline’s 12 A320neos or 10 A321neos, you’re in luck as all of these aircraft already have WiFi installed.
However, one note to watch out on. While an aircraft may have WiFi, it may not yet be switched on as FlyerTalk notes, “All aircraft except those due for retirement soon have the WiFi hardware fitted, but it hasn’t been enabled on the whole fleet yet.” With any luck, the digitization of the airline’s onboard magazine may speed up the activation.
Did you have WiFi on your last British Airways flight? Let us know your experience in the comments!