Qantas Wi-Fi: The Gizmodo Australia Review

Qantas Wi-Fi: The Gizmodo Australia Review

We’re up in the air today for a quick plane journey to test out Qantas’s brand new in-flight internet, which is available today to Qantas flyers for free and for the first time. It’s only on a single jet — ours! — for now, but will be rolled out to the entire Qantas fleet throughout the year. Join in as we put it through its paces.

10:00AM: G’day folks! You’ll be able to follow along on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook — we’ll give everything a bit of a test throughout our hour-long sojourn. Our flight is QF6160 if you want to track it on FlightAware or your favourite air traffic website…

10:15AM: So, we’ve just boarded. If I go quiet at any time throughout the flight, don’t necessarily take that as an indication that the ‘net is down! I’m also just trying to do a day’s work…

10:30AM: We’re onboard! It’s a very comfortably empty flight — maybe 70 passengers out of 180-odd seats. About to take off in a couple of minutes.

It’s interesting to note that you can connect any Wi-Fi enabled gadgets to Qantas’s inflight wireless even when you’re on the ground. If you try access the ‘net, though, you’ll get a message saying that it’s currently unavailable.

10:40AM: And we’re on our take-off roll! Radio silence for a few minutes, probably, until we make it to operating altitude. Stay tuned, folks.

10:55AM: Hullo, folks! Is this thing on?

So, we’re live from… whatever flight level we’re at at the moment. We’re flying a big loop from Sydney to Sydney, and I’m happy to report that the Wi-Fi *is* up and running. It’s not perfect — it’s being hammered at the moment by a bunch of speed tests and download tests from everyone on the plane — but it’s working enough for me to update the site.

11:15AM: The first run I put the system through got a result of 5Mbps down and 1Mbps up. That’s not bad for a plane heading through the air at 700-plus km/h and at 11,000-plus metres high. A subsequent couple of Speedtest attempts timed out, but I’m still getting emails and Facebook Messenger updates while we travel along.

11:30AM: Services that work very well at the moment: Snapchat, Facebook, Messenger, Twitter.

Services that don’t work so well: anything video. I tried to upload a video to Twitter and no dice. This is a beta test, obviously, and it’s being pushed to its limit by the people on board giving it a digital thrashing, so I’m actually confident that during regular flight — without constant speed tests — it’ll be up to snuff.

11:40AM: Qantas has partnered with Netflix, Foxtel and Spotify for its flights — once you’re in the air you can sign up for all the good stuff like a free month’s trial.

11:50AM: So, as I expected, a while into the flight, everything has settled down. I just watched a few minutes of Battle Los Angeles on Netflix — not in amazing quality, but it absolutely was streaming video.

(No screenshot because Netflix is a data security nerd. I have a photo on my other phone though.)

12:05PM: There’s even cupcakes. I don’t want to leave.

12:15PM: Streaming Netflix: here’s your proof.

So a video upload — a video of a photo upload, as it turns out — worked too. Not incredibly fast to upload, but it worked…

We’re just about to come back in for our landing now. It’s been fun!

12:25PM: So, early impressions? Positive. It was definitely flaky early on and shortly after take-off, but settled later throughout the flight.

I streamed video, I sent tweets and Instagram posts and Facebook posts and messages. I uploaded files to Google Drive and downloaded them again. That’s what I was hoping to do.

I couldn’t upload a video to Twitter, for what it’s worth. I haven’t had the best luck with Twitter and video even on the ground, to be fair, but I think it’s safe to say that you shouldn’t expect to be uploading massive files on Qantas Wi-Fi.

Speedtest results were all over the shop. Between the bunch of journos with me, we saw results of between 3Mbps and 25Mbps download, and 0.5Mbps and 3Mbps upload. That’s not bad at all.

12:45PM: Aaaaaand we’ve landed! I’m going to write a full review of my time onboard later today, but thanks for tuning in guys. Hope you had fun and maybe even learned something.