Want to get online on a British Airways short-haul flight? The service is now in soft launch mode on a limited number of aircraft, with pricing and service tiers finally coming out. There is no free option, but the plans are reasonably priced for the services.
For passengers happy to just text with friends and colleagues on the ground a messaging pass option is available for £1.99-2.99. This option covers common apps including iMessage and WhatsApp though limits/throttles media messages through those services to conserve bandwidth.
Those looking for a more full-featured experience can upgrade to the streaming plan. The price varies by flight length, with reports of £6.99 on service from London to Hamburg and £7.99 to Lisbon. Reported speeds are sufficient for some video streaming services though at least one report came up well short of the high speeds bragged about by other vendors. It is unclear that the speedtest numbers matter at that point relative to the lower latency the European Aviation Network (EAN)-powered system will deliver across most of the coverage area.
Inmarsat noted in its most recent earnings call that the service launched the first week of March on a handful of aircraft. It appears that three have service active today, with another ten in testing mode. The deployment is expected to expand in the relatively near future, covering the bulk of the carrier’s A320 family. A subset of A319 aircraft slated for retirement in the next couple years will not see the system installed.
The new Inmarsat EAN-powered offering from British Airways joins a number of other carriers with wifi active and/or rolling out across their planes serving Europe. These include Air France, El Al, Finnair, Lufthansa Group, Norwegian and SAS. The BA price points compare well to the others for full access. It lags, however, on messaging pricing; three competitors offer that as a complimentary to passengers.