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Huge change coming to Qantas international flights

You'll soon be able to surf the net for free as Wi-Fi capabilities are rolled out across the fleet.

You'll soon be able to browse the internet on your phone or laptop on Qantas international flights. Being connected to the world wide web on ground-level is something that people take for granted, but it's a different story when you're 33,000 feet in the air.

While passengers have been able to surf the net on certain domestic routes, they've been kept offline when flying on most overseas journeys. But change is afoot.

It's been close to a decade since the Flying Kangaroo launched it's free Wi-Fi and many have been asking when the system will be rolled out to the rest of the fleet.

Plane passenger next to insert of Qantas tail
Passengers will soon be able to surf the net when travelling on international Qantas flights. (Source: Getty)

Do you have a story? Email stew.perrie@yahooinc.com

Planes doing domestic routes were fitted with internet service in 2016 and it was rolled out to select international destinations like Singapore, Jakarta, Manila and Denpasar last year, but only while the plane was over Australia.

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Qantas executive manager for product and service, Phil Capps, has finally revealed passengers will be able to check emails, send text messages and watch YouTube or TikTok videos from the end of this year during their lengthy flights.

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It will also be completely free, which is a huge win for travellers considering how expensive Wi-Fi can be on other airlines. Some carriers will charge a few dollars per hour to use their internet service, while others will offer a full-flight or 24-hour package that can cost up to $50.

“We’ve seen Wi-Fi for our customers on domestic flights just being part of the every day, so it’s a fundamental expectation that it will be there and that they will use it in all sorts of diverse ways," Capps explained to The Australian.

What Qantas routes will get Wi-Fi first?

Passengers heading to Asia will be the first to soak up this new offer and then Qantas will extend the Wi-Fi capabilities to planes travelling to New Zealand.

Flights crossing the Pacific to North, Central and South America will be next in line. It's not expected to be on planes going to Europe until the second half of 2026.

Why has it taken so long for Qantas international flights to have Wi-Fi?

Capps said Qantas has been waiting until a network provider was able to guarantee solid service during a flight, especially ones that went across large swaths of ocean.

"We've set a really strong benchmark with our domestic Wi-Fi offering," he said.

"We didn't want to go out strong with international Wi-Fi until we were comfortable that we could meet a comparable benchmark."

Qantas has partnered with Californian-based global communications company Viasat, which recently merged with British satellite company Inmarsat.

Capps said it only made sense to jump on board now because of their combined Wi-Fi power and network coverage.

Retrofitting the fleet of A380 planes, which were acquired back before 2010, has been harder than the fresher Boeing 787 Dreamliners. That added to the delay in rolling out the service, he said.

This comes after the airline confirmed the details of a huge expansion to its frequent flyer scheme. You can read all about that here.

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