Eurowings passengers can now connect to the internet for free in flight. Some 72 of the carrier’s A320 family aircraft now carry the Inmarsat Global Xpress (GX) hardware on board now, allowing for the airline to deliver wifi on most flights. As that number continues to creep towards full fleet availability service provider Deutsche Telekom wants to engage passengers and get them connecting. Travelers on equipped aircraft now receive 10 minutes of service free on board. From there they additional connectivity may be purchased for up to 11.90 per segment, depending on the desired performance levels.
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) January 10, 2017
The carrier offers three tiers of service, consistent with the plans announced in early 2017 by Lufthansa. The names are slightly different on the Eurowings planes but the net effect remains the same. The Eurowings approach also integrates the onboard streaming media inflight entertainment system into the tariffs. The base package – “Connect S” – enables messaging and e-mail services for EUR 3.90 per flight. “Connect M” brings higher speeds to the traveler, allowing for most normal web browsing activity. It also unlocks access to movie and TV content streamed from on-board the aircraft. That plan prices at EUR 6.90 per flight. The “Connect L” package increases the bandwidth available to travelers, enabling streaming videos and music at a price of EUR 11.90 per flight.
The WINGS Connect portal remains free for all passengers, delivering flight status, destination details and partner shopping offers.
This offering could motivate some passengers but comes up well short of plans previously indicated between the LH Group and Telekom to create a truly integrated billing and access solution. That service aims to integrate the Global Xpress hotspots in the air with Telekom’s hotspot app, making the connection truly seamless from both a technical and billing perspective.
The ten minutes free approach parallels the approach taken by Gogo and Japan Airlines in the early stages of that deployment. The carrier provided 15 minutes free to all passengers. Ultimately it made the decision to make wifi free to all passengers throughout the flight; the 15 minute offer did not deliver the desired upsell conversions. Perhaps Eurowings will be more successful on this front. Or maybe the carrier will follow the footsteps of competitor Air France (and several other airlines globally), offering complimentary access to the messaging tier of service on board. This freemium pricing model can either deliver the up-sell that the airlines and service providers so desperately seek or could further accustom passengers to expecting complimentary connectivity.
Inmarsat bet big on the upsell option, believing that billions of dollars in passenger-paid connectivity revenue sits on the horizon. Part of that comes from getting the aircraft equipped, a process that remains ongoing. The other part revolves around convincing passengers to pay. Thus far that’s proven very, very difficult on a global scale.