El Al Launches Low-cost Wi-Fi Service on Flights

Israeli airline will offer three different packages, starting Sunday with flights to and from Europe

The logo of Israel's El Al Airlines is seen during a ceremony marking the arrival of the first of the airline's order of 16 Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets, at Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, Israel August 23, 2017.
REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo

El Al is to offer a Wi-Fi service on flights from Sunday, at surprisingly low prices.

The airline is evidently determined not to let its economic situation – including rumors of future layoffs – prevent it from vying for the heart and pocketbook of the Israeli tourist.

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After buying a fleet of Dreamliner aircraft, which the company hopes will increase its market share while also saving on costs, it is now investing in Wi-Fi services on all its flights – something many other airlines already provide.

In the first phase, starting Sunday, the service will be available on flights to and from Europe. It will become available on the new Dreamliners in the near future.

The service will allow passengers to surf the web, send text messages via applications like WhatsApp and even watch short videos. But they will not be able to make standard phone calls.

El Al will offer three Wi-Fi packages, each of which is good for the entire duration of the flight. The basic package will only provide internet access – but that will be free. The “social” package will also let people watch videos, and will cost $9.99. The business package, which will cost $19.99, will let users listen to music and connect to virtual private networks as well.

On flights from Israel, the service will begin 30 minutes after takeoff. On flights from Europe, it will begin as soon as the “Fasten seatbelt” sign is turned off and end 30 minutes before the plane arrives at Ben-Gurion International Airport.

The internet access will be provided by Viasat’s communications satellites, and El Al promises that the service is both fast and secure. It said passengers will be able to access all websites, except those “the company sees fit to block as inappropriate.”

El Al’s prices appear to be among the lowest in the market, though it’s important to check exactly what each package contains. For instance, British Airways charges $14 for an hour of Wi-Fi, $24 for four hours and $32 for an entire flight. Lufthansa, meanwhile, charges $10 for one hour, $16 for four hours and $19 for 24 hours. United charges $17 for an entire flight, while Turkish Airlines charges $9.90 for an hour or $14 for 24 hours (except in business class, where it’s free).

El Al finally decided to join the list of airlines offering Wi-Fi because it realized this is now a basic customer service. Nowadays, people are simply no longer willing to be out of contact with the world – or at least not with their favorite WhatsApp group.