From mid-January, passengers on Lufthansa flights within Europe can exchange messages with friends and family 35,000 below for no additional charge and using their own devices.
The German carrier is rolling out free messaging to all of its WLAN-equipped Airbus A320 aircraft, which fly short- and medium-haul routes within Europe.
To access the service, passengers will need to log into the airline’s FlyNet portal on their device using a service card number for Lufthansa’s loyalty program, Miles & More, or an email address registered with a Lufthansa Group Travel ID. If they’re not registered, they’ll be able to create a log-in during the flight.
Once connected, passengers can use the onboard internet to access popular messaging apps, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram, and send unlimited messages. That includes photo messages, often excluded in free messaging services from rival airlines.
“Lufthansa is investing around two billion euros in product and service improvements. In the process, we have implemented and planned many large, medium, and also smaller initiatives that make traveling with Lufthansa an even better experience,” said Heiko Reitz, CCO at Lufthansa Airlines.
“One great example is Free Messaging. I am pleased that our guests will in future be able to stay in touch with their relatives or business partners above the clouds—free of charge.”
The service won’t be available on regional flights operated by smaller jets or on long-haul flights operated by Lufthansa’s wide-body aircraft.
The free internet is limited to messaging, so passengers won’t be able to browse the web or load streaming sites. However, Lufthansa is also cutting the price of its unlimited Wi-Fi packages. The airline hasn’t published the new rates but said they will be discounted by almost 50%.
Within Europe, Lufthansa currently charges €5 ($5.34) for its “Mail and Surf” package, rate-limited to 600 kilobits per second but enough to browse the web and social media sites, and €10 ($10.69) for its “Streaming” package, speeds capped at 15 megabits per second and sufficient to play video on sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Both packages are valid throughout the entire flight.
Meanwhile, a handful of airlines offer free Wi-Fi in all cabins, although sometimes rate-limited or restricted to just an hour. Those carriers include JetBlue, Delta Air Lines, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Norwegian Airlines.