When it comes to wifi on international flights, I find that Lufthansa’s FlyNet offerings are the all around best. Lufthansa charges a fixed amount of 15-20 Euros per 24 hours, which is extremely reasonable, especially since it can be valid for two flights if you have a connection. Meanwhile other carriers like Emirates and Singapore charge based on usage, which, if you Facebook/Tweet/Instagram as much as I do, can get pretty expensive.
The wifi on Lufthansa is also faster than what I’ve experienced on most international carriers. It’s by no means as fast as wifi on the ground, or even wifi on the “average” flight with Gogo, but it’s still fairly usable. And Lufthansa also has wifi on a vast majority of their longhaul flights (~90% at this point), with the exception of their A380s, which should get them fairly soon. The A380s don’t have them yet because Lufthansa didn’t want to install wifi through Airbus, so per their contract they’re having to wait a couple of years before they can install third party wifi.
Anyway, I’ve had a couple of Lufthansa longhaul segments in the past week, and on both flights wifi was free, and the purchase page indicated it would remain that way till at least January 3, 2014. I actually wasn’t too excited about that since I think the price they usually charge is reasonable, and at the end of the day a lot more people will use wifi when it’s free than when you have to pay for it, so I figured it would slow it down even further. For example, Turkish has free wifi, and I’m pretty sure we crossed all of Russia in the time it took for my email inbox to load.
However, that wasn’t the issue. It seems Lufthansa is doing some maintenance (or something) with the service, because it wasn’t working for a vast majority of both flights. While it was “functioning” in the sense that you could get to the purchase page, it showed as “disconnected” for all but maybe an hour of both flights. For what it’s worth this is different than when the wifi truly isn’t working, whereby the purchase page doesn’t even show up.
So I guess the free wifi wasn’t so much a Christmas gift, as an acknowledgment of it not functioning well enough to actually sell.