First announced in early 2019, Korean Air is finally ready to activate its in-flight WiFi service. The airline confirmed this week that the 737 MAX 8 fleet will be connected on international routes as of 1 June 2023. The service is powered by Panasonic Avionics‘ Global Connectivity Suite.
Passengers can pick from “Messaging” and “Internet” plans on board, with different pricing options depending on the service tier and duration of flight. To celebrate the product launch the Messaging tier will be offered complimentary on board for the first three months of service.
Korean also plans to deploy connectivity across the broader fleet, including the more premium configuration of its A321neo and 787 aircraft. Timing for those installs is less clear, though it is publishing pricing for what will eventually be available on those flights.
Once the launch promo expires the Messaging service will price at $4.95 per flight for short-haul and mid-haul markets (Japan, China, Other Asian destinations). That goes up to $5.95 for longer-haul routes covering the Americas, Oceania, Europe, and the Middle East or Africa.
The Internet plan will price at $11.95 for short flights (China, Japan, Northeast Asia), $13.95 for mid-haul (rest of Asia), and $20.95 for long-haul. A $10.95 option for two hours of access is also available on mid/long-haul flights. The Internet plan includes music and video services, though the video streams will be limited to 480p quality.
The carrier is no stranger to in-flight internet, but that history also highlights the challenge Korean faces with bringing Wi-Fi on board. It was an early customer for the Conexxion by Boeing product and completed installs on 10 aircraft before the service was shuttered in early 2006.
Moreover, as connectivity speeds on the ground in Korea increased massively the inflight world has not kept pace. The carrier was hesitant to install the current generation of products, according to CEO Walter Cho back in 2019 when the announcement was originally made, based on performance concerns and high expectations of its native passengers. Still, Cho said, adding the service is necessary to bring the carrier’s service “to the level where our customers’ needs are.”
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