Flyers in Brazil may soon benefit from free WiFi connectivity on flights lasting more than two hours, if a bill introduced to the Brazilian parliament goes through.
The opportunity to stay connected
Currently just one Brazilian carrier offers WiFi to passengers, according to Simple Flying, and that is Azul Linhas Aéreas, as long as “the passenger is onboard an aircraft with available service, they can browse unlimitedly.”
Aiming to extend that privilege across the sector, and to stimulate the demand for air tickets, according to Avacionline, Deputy Antonio Carlos Nicoletti has presented Bill 1900/23 to the country’s Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. He argued it “allows passengers the opportunity to stay connected during flights, whether for work or leisure, adding value to the air transport service and enhancing passenger convenience.”
Domestic routes only
If adopted, the measure would require carriers make free internet available to flyers on domestic routes lasting more than two hours.
What’s more, the in-flight service would need to meet Brazilian internet broadband standards, specified by the National Telecommunications Agency (ANATEL), Deputy Nicoletti said.
The Chamber of Deputies’ committees on Transportation and Constitution and Justice and Citizenship will now examine the legislation. If passed it would entail a change to the Brazilian Aeronautics Code.
Is it affordable?
Some insiders say the measures are costly to implement in a sector that is recovering from Covid-19.
Aviaconline reports that Brazil has a “history” of legislation that airlines cannot afford to implement, noting that “the inclusion of checked baggage in all air fares” was in place in Brazil until 2017, and “airlines are still unable to charge for cabin luggage up to 10 kg.”
Simple Flying notes that Brazilian airlines GOL and LATAM Brasil do have WiFi access onboard their flights, through various bundles. GOL has three levels of service, the first allowing browsing through various messaging and social apps, and texting. Service levels differ all the way to the streaming option “Max Flight Package”, priced at 45 reais an hour and 58 reais for the flight duration ($9-12).
Meanwhile LATAM Brasil brought in inflight WiFi in 2018 but only offers it on Airbus A319 and A320 flights. The service starts at 7.50 reais ($1.5) per hour.
Around the world
Forcing all Brazilian airlines to offer a WiFi service would put Brazil in quite a unique position.
Other carriers around the world do provide free WiFi but not as many as some travellers might believe. Emirates, Etihad and Qatar feature on Simple Flying’s WiFi accessibility round-up, as do JetBlue, Delta and American Airlines in the US. Most of these airlines only offer some version of WiFi access to members of loyalty programmes.
Elsewhere, Turkish Airlines provides messaging, while Singapore Airlines make free Wi-Fi available to all.