Recently many airlines have tightened the rules for internet connections on their (long haul) flights. Some airlines offer free internet for Gold or Diamond, Platinum members for an hour, some grant it for the whole flight. I happen to fly quite a lot, so I have an Emerald tier which mostly gives me a free internet throughout the entire flight. But if I want to share the connection with e.g. family or friends on the flight?
Well, it’s quite easy. Most airlines only allow one connection, so you better connect with a Windows 10 laptop first. After your connection is established, go to ‘Change Mobile hotspot settings’ where you can create a personal hotspot. You then connect your iPad, Phone, your family’s devices to the new private hotspot.
As the plane wifi cannot distinguish the origin of the network traffic, it does not know that you are sharing the internet connection with the other devices.
Most airlines have also blocked bandwidth-consuming services such as Netflix or Skype, so they don’t connect. If you want to use them, you can connect with your device using a VPN solution (such as F-Secure Freedome), after which you are able even to have a video chat/call high in the sky. The quality is usually not that good but it’s kind of fun to talk to your family on the flight.
As an Emerald customer for the Oneworld alliance, I’m very happy with the more restrictive internet policies on the flights as I have noticed that the connection gets better. The business class / gold members burn through their free internet quite early during the flight, after which the bandwidth is pretty much mine for the rest of the long haul flight (approx 10 hours to Asia or 7 hours to the US from Europe.)