Chinese airline offers Wi-Fi on long haul flights

Beijing: China Eastern Airlines is set to provide a 3G Wi-Fi service on selected long-haul flights, the media reported on Sunday.

The offer, set to launch on November 12, will initially be available on flights from Shanghai to New York, Los Angeles and Toronto served by Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which are fitted with satellite communication devices, said Zhang Chi, deputy director of the airline’s business development office.

However, over the course of a three-month trial, the service will be provided on international flights to Vancouver and San Francisco, and also on selected domestic flights to and from Beijing, Guangzhou, Kunming, Chengdu and Chongqing, Zhang said.

The service will be limited to 50 passengers per flight. Anyone with a valid booking number for a flight within the trial period should visit the China Eastern website to register for an access code, which will be provided on a first come, first served basis, China.org reported.

“The first 50 people to apply will be sent a code via short message or e-mail,” Zhang said, adding that during the trial the service will be free, but charges will apply in the future.

“We will review network flows during the test run to work out price plans. In the future, we might offer a range of services, with different bandwidths and internet speeds, and charge accordingly,” he said.

The user quota is also subject to review following the test run, he said.

While people with access codes will have full access to the internet, those without will still be able to browse a limited number of websites, including the carrier’s own, Zhang added.