Passengers on Austrian Airlines now have a new option to pay for inflight internet access. The carrier integrated the FlyNet® App, developed by Deutsche Telekom, as part of its passenger experience offering. The app makes it easier to purchase WiFi access for a trip, either prior to travel or while in flight.
Our app is the answer to the rather complicated process that travelers still face when trying to be connected in the air. – Rolf Nafziger, Senior Vice President at Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier
Travelers can register on the app using existing credentials from Apple, Google, the Miles and More frequent flyer program, or a dedicated account. Integration with Lufthansa Group’s Travel ID program is also planned. Once registered, passengers can purchase inflight passes and store them in their account, allowing redemption during a trip without typing in a code.
Passengers who register via the Miles and More program can also redeem points for their internet access on Austrian flights.
In addition to enabling internet services, the app also allows access to the on-board portal of services, online shopping, and destination details including weather, restaurant recommendations, and tourist attractions.
Austrian is the second carrier in the Lufthansa Group of airlines to implement the functionality. Lufthansa enabled the FlyNet app on its flights last summer.
Enabling the app for Austrian is a notable step forward for Deutsche Telekom, but it is still what Telekom VP Inflight & Connectivity Services David Fox described last summer as “a bit of a stop-gap” solution. He believes the three clicks required for passengers to get online is still “two click too many.”
Fox envisions integration of the FlyNet functionality in the airline’s native app. In that context the FlyNet version uses the available API and deploys the functionality for a more generic airline experience. Direct airline integration would remove the need to download a dedicated app. It would also allow the airline to better integrate selling the access pass during the flight booking path or as part of a fare bundle. Fox explained, “The ideal use case is that as you go through the airline sales process you can purchase WiFi and that queries our database to issue an entitlement.”
And, of course, getting to the point where no billing is required is also a goal for Telekom. Telekom has some advantages given its relationship with global mobile network operators and the ability to integrate its billing solutions between the on-board portals and phone subscription service plans. Fox expects to “build on that strength” as the company continues to develop solutions.
The basic technical functions are mostly covered. And the ability to integrate into billing plans has been available since 2019 (and announced in late 2018). Similar to the current market state, that plan used a Telekom-developed app to help passengers get closer to online.
When, exactly, the first fully integrated solution goes live, however, remains to be seen.
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