Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways is introducing a number of new wifi packages that include free inflight messaging.
All passengers will be able to take advantage of complimentary ‘Chat’ messaging – including WhatsApp, Messenger and WeChat – for the entirety of flights by signing in with their Etihad Guest membership, or by joining the scheme before flying.
Passengers who are not members of the loyalty programme can purchase the Chat package for $2.99 on flights of less than seven hours and for $4.99 on flights longer than seven hours.
A ‘Surf’ plan, meanwhile, provides unlimited data usage and is free for passengers travelling in first class and for Etihad Guest Platinum and Exclusive members. For other passengers it is charged at $9.99 on flights of less than seven hours and $19.99 on flights of more than seven hours.
Turkish Airlines made a similar announcement earlier this week, wherein its Miles&Smiles members will have free use of chat apps on certain aircraft types initially, before complimentary access is rolled out across its fleet.
Etihad Airways CEO Antonoaldo Neves said: “We know how important it is for our guests to stay connected, which is why we’re thrilled to introduce an added complimentary benefit for Etihad Guest members and welcome everyone to sign up before they fly to take advantage of this benefit immediately.
“Our fleet of modern wide-body aircraft is fitted with the right technology to enable this service and offer our guests an enjoyable connected experience throughout their journey,” he added.
The airline’s narrow-body fleet will continue to provide passengers with current mobile connectivity service that allows guests to make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages, and use their data roaming packages as they would on the ground.