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Bits: British Airways finally signs wi-fi deal, Electric Daisy Carnival, Four Seasons in Biarritz

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News in brief:

British Airways FINALLY announces a wi-fi deal

British Airways announced yesterday that it has reached a deal with US internet group Gogo to introduce its new generation wi-fi system on 137 long-haul aircraft.

Gogo’s 2Ku system will be installed on 118 British Airways aircraft, four Aer Lingus 757, and up to 15 Iberia long-haul aircraft.  Newer Aer Lingus and Iberia aircraft already offer a Panasonic wi-fi system and will not be upgraded.

My experience of in-flight wi-fi to date has not been great.  Due to capacity issues, you either charge nothing or a nominal sum and get an incredibly slow service (Emirates) or you charge a premium price which is unviable for anyone without a major expense account (Qatar).  The new Gogo system adds substantial capacity and should allow large numbers of passengers to undertake video streaming in parallel.

Don’t rush out to buy a new tablet yet.  The first test 747 will not be ready until 2017 and the full roll-out will take until 2019.

Electric Daisy Carnival

VIP package to the Electric Daisy Carnival

Hilton @Play, which lets you redeem Hilton HHonors points for ‘experiences’, has two interesting VIP packages available to the Electric Daisy Carnival in Milton Keynes.

Billed as ‘the ultimate single-day festival experience’, you will get two VIP ‘access all areas’ tickets, a tour of the festival prior to the doors opening and an overnight stay at the DoubleTree Milton Keynes hotel on 9th July.

Two packages are available at a fixed price of 100,000 Hilton HHonors points.  You can redeem here.

Hotel du Palais
Four Seasons takes over the Hotel du Palais in Biarritz

This may be slightly old news – by three weeks – but it had passed me by. Luxury hotel group Four Seasons has agreed to manage the iconic Hotel du Palais in Biarritz.

This might not mean much, but if you have ever been to Biarritz you will know that this is a wonderfully located historic property directly on the Bay of Biscay. It was originally built by Napoleon III for his wife Eugénie. Once a bit of Four Seasons magic has been sprinkled over it (plus €50m of refurbishment) it should be a fantastic base for a weekend break.

Meanwhile, Four Seasons Canary Wharf in London is now the Canary Riverside Plaza Hotel. On the face of it, it may be surprising that the hotel is unbranded after FS ceased management. However, I know that Four Season management contracts are incredibly tight and often include a clause which stops a hotel operating under another brand for a number of years if FS is forced out. We saw this in Provence a few years ago.

Comments (31)

  • Genghis says:

    Raffles – BA wifi article edit – “get charged nothing”

    • Worzel says:

      Genghis-have you decided whether or not you’ll write a piece on Avios valuation?

      • Genghis says:

        Hi Worzel. I reread Raffles’ article and it certainly covers key points. It should be compulsory reading for all HfP readers. I’ll have a think about what value I could add.

        • Worzel says:

          If done, run it past me and I’ll proofread 🙂 .

  • Simon says:

    I tried the Virgin Atlantic WiFi and the speeds were good, I could stream Sky Sports fine. There was no free option though, I had to pay, think it was £15.

    • Tom C says:

      I agree – and yes, it was £15. Same with Etihad as well, who also use the same system. I’d rather pay and have good speed than a terrible service that was free. Still feels a bit cheap that paying for an F ticket I don’t get free wifi though.

      • Yuff says:

        Low cost carriers in the US have been providing wifi for free( 2014) for several years, how difficult can it be for BA etc!

        • Genghis says:

          And Norwegian?

        • john says:

          Providing WiFi over land is significantly easier than doing it over ocean as they often use air-to-land based transmission rather than having to use satellite. Granted many companies have offered satellite based WiFi for years, and BA are slow to that game, but it is different to providing it over the continental US.

        • insider says:

          But I think it’s much cheaper in the US as you can install ground to aircraft connectivity rather than having to use satellites. That’s obviously more of an issue over an Ocean (or in Europe where I imagine you have to deal with all the nations separately rather than just the EU)

      • JamesWag says:

        Qatar give free WiFi in F, or at least they did the few times I’ve flown it. They give you a code.

        They also did it on a couple of J class flights but not for others 🙁

        • Rob says:

          They do, but only F.

          • JamesWag says:

            Must have been lucky when I got it in J. Not surprised it wasn’t every flight then 🙂

    • Adey says:

      Yup, I’ve streamed Netflix with no problem.

      I was in UC. Wonder if they implement some sort of QoS and allocate more of the available bandwidth to UC? Hope so 😉

      Adey

  • Matthew Reeve says:

    I had no issues with Etihad’s wifi, but then I guess I didn’t test it fully. BA have had G-CIVG fitted out with Wifi, no idea if it is still on board (it was in July 2015).

  • Nick says:

    Aer Lingus business class free wifi is excellent too. I used it between DUB-BOS last July.

  • JamesWag says:

    BA’s just an embarrassment these days. WIFI on just 118 of its planes by 2019 !! There’ll be a new technology by then making the current standards & speeds obsolete 🙂

    How hard is it really ? Come on !

    Was annoyed not to get free WiFi on some Qatar flights in J. Seems a bit penny pinching.

  • Callum says:

    I quite like not having internet connectivity on a plane. It forces you to take a break from all the emails and allows me to catch up on all the films I failed to see in the cinema. 🙂

    • Leo says:

      +1. Who needs to stream services when you have IFE….

  • Simon Schus says:

    The Aer Lingus wifi is excellent (I think it is provided by t-mobile.de). In terms of speed, I’ve streamed live news channels on a laptop over the Atlantic with no problem 🙂 It has been so useful when trying to finish work on the way to the US (mostly just sleep on the way back to Europe so don’t really bother!).

    GoGo is decent enough for US domestic flights. I’ve managed to stream live radio (through the BBC Radio App) which was fine. Sometimes live streaming of news channels is a bit poor on a laptop and a mobile phone. I had to use a VPN to get access to some streaming websites as the provider blocks (or perhaps throttles) well-known streaming websites to avoid bandwidth hogging. The novelty of streaming in the air wore off fairly quickly as I was only trying it out to see what the wifi was capable of doing, plus a number of the airlines given you local streaming of television programs that they have pre-selected which negates the need to stream live. In the current implementation, I feel like the GoGo wifi is useful for keeping in contact (e.g. iMessage; email) with people whilst on the flight but for not too much else unless you have an urgent need to get some information. I find that the 30 minute or 1 hours packs to be the best value.

  • Simon Schus says:

    P.S. The wifi on Iberia flights at the moment is fairly poor. You get a limited amount of data (from memory, 50 mb?) for free and then there are excessive charges beyond that. I used it on a flight from MAD-LHR recently and I could barely even download any of my emails on my phone! It was such a short flight that it wasn’t a problem at all (plus I’m not that important so my emails can always wait!). However, I know that the same service is offered on some Iberia transatlantic flights already. I would not be happy with that service should I have paid for it! Hopefully this deal, once implemented, will allow some better connectivity on the long hauls.

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