Cathay Pacific bringing free inflight WiFi to first class

Cathay Pacific’s famously opulent first class just got a little better. Aside from the lavish lounges, the stunning on board suites and the decadent dining, first class fliers can now look forward to staying connected inflight for free too. Passengers traveling on Cathay’s Boeing 777-300ERs can now connect for free for the entirety of their journey, effective immediately.

cathay first
Cathay’s first class passengers now have free WiFi. Photo: Cathay

Executive Traveler, who first spotted the news, value this offer at around $20, depending on the length of the flight. The equivalent ‘flight pass’ would set you back $13 for flights up to six hours long, or the full $20 for anything longer. Access is granted across all devices including laptops, smartphones and tablets.

What’s really nice about the Cathay offer is that this WiFi is uncapped. This puts them several steps ahead of Asian rival Singapore Airlines, who’s free WiFi offer comes with only a few hundred MB of data.

In order to access the free WiFi, Cathay passengers can expect a frictionless experience. Gogo told Get Connected that,

“The method of redemption is for First Class Passengers to enter their Name and Seat number into the Cathay Onboard Portal which will result in seamless activation of the wi-fi session for properly entitled passengers.”

Why just the 777-300ER?

Not all of Cathay Pacific’s aircraft are WiFi equipped. All of its A350s offer inflight connectivity now, but the airline is still part way through the rollout on the 777 fleet. In fact, the airline only started rolling out the 777s connectivity solution last year.

Cathay 777
Only the 777-300ERs have first, and not all of them at that. Photo: Cathay

The reason the A350 is not offering free WiFi is simply because this aircraft does not have first class. In fact, not all of the 777s have first class either. One Mile At A Time gave a timely update on the progress of the WiFi rollout last month, which said that, of the 31 four class 777-300ER (with first class), just 20 had so far been WiFi equipped.

If you want to be sure of getting on board an aircraft with free WiFi in first, OMAAT had a great tip: check out the seating map. 20 of the 24 Boeing 777-300ER that have first and also have 10 seats per row in economy have WiFi. In contrast, none of the 7 Boeing 777-300ER that have first but only NINE seats per row in economy are currently equipped.

Cathay WiFi
Checking the seat map could give you a good chance of being on a WiFi equipped flight. Photo: Cathay

In terms of routes, these aircraft are mainly used on flights between Hong Kong and the USA. Specifically, they tend to go to Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK), San Francisco (SFO) and Chicago (ORD). However, equipment gets swapped around a lot, so do check the seat map before making your booking to give yourself the best chance.

Overall, Cathay has equipped 32 of its 51 777-300ER with WiFi, and is working on the rest. Offering it for free in first, and also uncapped, is a great move to secure that all important passenger loyalty.

Is Cathay’s WiFi any good?

Cathay have opted for the Gogo 2Ku connectivity solution on both the Boeing 777s and the Airbus A330s. The A350s, on the other hand, are arriving with Panasonic’s eXConnect Ku-band system already installed.

Gogo’s service is usually relatively good, but the Asia-Pacific region can be difficult. Valour Consultancy took a trip from Hong Kong to Melbourne with the carrier, on board a Gogo equipped 777-300ER. Their review notes some pretty impressive speeds, clocking in at over 36Mbps int eh middle of the ocean. The reviewer also managed some crystal clear FaceTime and a good bit of YouTubing whilst on the flight.

Gogo HTS
Image: Gogo

In fact, Gogo’s latest HTS map gives a good insight as to where the speeds will be excellent. Between the US and Hong Kong, passengers can expect a pretty solid signal throughout the flight. Even if you’re not lucky enough to be traveling in the pointy end of the 777, it’s probably worth the $20 for uncapped, full flight WiFi.

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