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British Airways free inflight messaging is rolling out at a (seemingly) good pace

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At the beginning of March, British Airways confirmed that as part of its £7bn transformation plan, it would begin to roll out free inflight messaging for its Executive Club members (of all tiers) from 3 April and that all its wifi enabled aircraft would offer this service within 2 weeks of the rollout starting.

Since then, British Airways has rolled back that promise a little and now says that free messaging will be available on all wifi enable aircraft by the end of May, but from what I’ve seen in recent weeks (I’ve been on a lot of BA short-haul flights), the rollout still seems to be progressing at a good pace – only one of my recent 11 flights didn’t offer free inflight messaging.

When you first open BA’s inflight wifi page it isn’t obvious that free inflight messaging is available because it doesn’t get mentioned …

a screenshot of a computer

… but when you click/tap on the ‘view all Wi-Fi Packages’ link, the option to select free wifi messaging is prominently displayed if the aircraft offers it.

a screenshot of a phone

Logging in is straightforward …

a screenshot of a phone

… but you’ll have to deal with an annoying CATCHPA page after you confirm that you want to start a session.

screens screenshot of a phone

a screenshot of a computer screen

Nothing else appears to have changed with the onboard wifi service so the ‘upgrade’ option that you’ll probably see appear on your screen simply leads to the standard wifi options where the costs remain the same.

a screenshot of a phone

From my limited use of the new benefit it seems as if messages get sent and received pretty quickly and considering how often BA’s short-haul flights seem to get delayed nowadays, this will be a welcome option for passengers who would rather not pay for full inflight wifi but who still need to let someone know that they won’t be arriving at their destination on time.

It’s worth noting that while all the aircraft British Airways has based at Gatwick now offer inflight wifi, approximately 20% of its aircraft based at Heathrow still (somehow!) don’t have wifi capability, so while the rollout of free messaging to wifi enabled aircraft appears to be progressing swiftly, the rollout of wifi to the entire BA fleet continues to progress at a rate that a glacier would consider slow (even some of the airline’s newest aircraft don’t yet offer inflight wifi).

Bottom line

If you’re flying with British Airways, there’s now a reasonable chance that your flight will offer free inflight messaging even though that may not be immediately obvious when you board. This is far from an innovative move by BA as free inflight messaging has been available on a variety of other airlines for some time but given the airline’s truly abysmal record when it comes to anything related to IT, this is a welcome move in the right direction.

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