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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Emirates expands wifi service

Many economy class passengers criticised the new wifi offers by Emirates.

Some economy class passengers criticised Emirates Airlines' new wifi offers as they said they were more expensive than last year.
Some economy class passengers criticised Emirates Airlines' new wifi offers as they said they were more expensive than last year.

DUBAI // Many passengers of Emirates Airlines were left disappointed by the new inflight wifi offers announced by the airline on Thursday.

The Dubai-based airline is now providing unlimited data usage for first and business class passengers as well as Emirates Skywards Platinum and Gold members. Meanwhile, Silver and Blue members get a 50 per cent discount on usage. But economy class passengers who are not members of Skywards only get the first 20MB free, which can be used within two hours of their initial log in.

The deal was criticised by some as more expensive than it used to be.

Taleen Yousef, a regular passenger on the Emirates Nice-Dubai flight, said she would pay US$1 (Dh3.67) in economy class last year for 500MB. However, when she took the same flight last Monday, that rate multiplied by almost eight times at US$7.99 (Dh29.34).

“And the connection was very slow,” she added, “not worthy of Emirates because everything else is perfect on Emirates.”

Another passenger tweeted: “I think you should be awarded on the slowest inflight connection ever.”

Others complained that 20MB was not enough for long-haul flights such as the one from Dubai to New York (JFK), especially when compared to Jet Blue which offers free unlimited wifi onboard. Emirates tweeted a reply saying one can use 150MB for US$9.99 only (Dh36.69) and 500MB for US$15.99 (Dh58.73).

On the other hand, more privileged passengers expressed their excitement as they looked forward to their upcoming flight on the airline.

Paul Jakubowski, from the United States, said he has been traveling with Emirates for two years.

“As a Skywards member, the ability to connect for free in business and first class will be a very nice perk,” the project manager said.

“I'm really looking forward to the experience much more with the prospect of being able to check social media on my 14-hour flight back to the US. Now that laptops are allowed back on, I can be more productive and send emails to colleagues, too.”

In his past flights, he avoided using too much wifi on the plane because “the paywall was discouraging.”

“I understand fellow passengers' high expectations when it comes to wifi speed. Mine is tampered from experience with US carriers. The wifi rates are very high and the speed isn't very good."

“So, when Emirates opens theirs up to Skywards members in business and first class, a passenger like me is getting much more value for the price of their ticket. You can use a lot of bandwidth on a 14-hour flight,” he added.