Hours of flying up in the sky with nothing to do but watch movies or TV shows, or perhaps get out the laptop and do some work. With in-flight WIFI, now you can even work online while you fly. But is the WiFi on Qantas and Virgin any good?

This is Clickstarter, the regional Australian Digital Marketing Podcast, I’m Dante St James.

Is inflight WIFI worth it? And what exactly can you do on it? And if you’re in business, can you do business inflight using the internet?

The short answer is that it’s ok.  You can do most things that involve you downloading stuff. The longer answer is “kinda.” Because if your business requires you to take part of Zoom or Skype conference calls while you’re in-flight, you’ll likely be disappointed.

Working on Google’s GSuite range of tools is great inflight on both Qantas and Virgin. It’ll sync your work, grab your email and sent email just fine. Just don’t try to send too many large files. The trouble with Inflight Wifi is that it works via satellite – which gives a decent enough download speed, but the upload is terrible. That’s because the technology around satellite internet is a little like the old ADSL internet. While you may be able to watch a video as it’s downloading, you would struggle a little with sending a video back up the pipe.

And this is the biggest problem with inflight Wifi. Aside from it only being available on certain flights on certain airlines. Don’t count on inflight Wifi on every Virgin or Qantas flight, particularly on regional flights on QantasLink or on smaller aircraft like Fokker 100T or Embraer in those fleets. And forget about it if your aircraft is propeller driven.

Personally, I’ve tried to attend meetings via Zoom while inflight and it was a mess. But I’ve listened to streaming podcasts and watched streaming video from YouTueb and Netflix and it was watchable, although both did buffer a fair bit.

If you’re making presentations, writing documents, doing email and browsing social media, you’re going to be fine on the basic free Wifi on either carrier. But on Virgin you only get an hour for free. Want to go longer and faster, then you’ll need to pay about $17 for the whole flight. This is affordable and claimable by business, so no complaints from me.

In fact, I love being able to plugin and work inflight. It lets me get stuff done, like email and social posting while I would normally be in the middle of downtime over the outback. And while some extra sleep would be nice, honestly I have work to do.

Ironically I am writing this inflight right now. I’ve written a lot of blog posts and podcast scripts today. All because I didn’t have wifi access, I couldn’t answer emails, do social posts and complete online exams because I didn’t have internet access. Lucky I had plenty of charge left in my laptop today to at least get something done.