Last Fall Deutsche Telekom promised an integrated billing solution that would give its mobile phone customers easier access to the inflight connectivity solution on more than 200 Lufthansa Group aircraft. As of this week that promise is fulfilled. Customers subscribing to the new “Inflight Europa Flat” add-on package on their cell phone plan now receive seamless access to wifi on board the Group’s A320 family of planes.
Inflight Europa Flat pricing
The Inflight Europa Flat plan is available as a free option for customers in the Business Mobil L or XL plans and ten euro per month for Business Mobil M plan subscribers. Given the prices charged on the flights anyone buying the service on board for one round trip a month comes out ahead paying up for this on the M tariff. And for the L or XL customers it is already rolled into the price so a sure winner.
The offering is a push by Telekom to reduce the payment and account management friction associated with the inflight connectivity experience. The company cites a survey from Bitkom, Germany’s digital association, suggesting that 52% of Germans would like to surf the internet via Wi-Fi even above the clouds. While these surveys often exaggerate just how much consumers want to be connected, particularly if there is a cost associated with such, it does show that some demand exists.
To that end Hagen Rickmann, Director for Business Customers at Deutsche Telekom notes that his company “supports airlines in helping to meet this customer demand,” while ensuring that “passengers benefit from reliable connectivity over their entire journey,” on the ground and in the air.
The subscription can be accessed either through the airline’s login portal or via Deutsche Telekom’s dedicated Connect hotspot app. The app will detect that a subscriber hotspot is in range and prompt the user for a one tap connection.
Beyond the complimentary access on the Lufthansa, Austrian and Eurowings short-haul fleets the Telecom Inflight Europa Flight offering also extends to some 300 other aircraft flying long-haul routes where Telecom acts as the ISP for the service. In those cases subscribers can either pay the going rates available via the normal portal or pay for short-term access at one euro per ten minutes. While that pricing would quickly add up for a full flight experience it is a reasonable rate for a quick connection to sync emails or send a message to someone on the ground. Participating airlines in that program include Aer Lingus, Lufthansa, EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia, Japan Airlines, Malindo Airlines, Scoot and Virgin Atlantic.
Because Telecom’s portal sits in front of the underlying connectivity service provider it is able to deliver this offering across any wifi vendor’s solution. The short-haul systems operate on Inmarsat‘s GX Aviation network, for example, while the long haul networks mentioned are backed by Panasonic Avionics‘ eXConnect platform. It does not, however, extend to the EAN offering that IAG’s aircraft are activating and which are also supported by Telekom infrastructure on the ground. Perhaps that will come in the future, if the necessary business arrangements can be made.
The Inflight Europa Flat plan competes with iPass as a flat-rate WiFi offering. Customers not already on an eligible Telekom plan are likely to do better on overall price with the iPass option.