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Private Jet WiFi: A Guide To In-Flight Connectivity

Worried about being disconnected from your business, your loved ones, and the world at large when you’re on a private flight? There’s good news: you don’t have to give up internet connectivity when you work with Magellan Jets and fly on the right aircraft. Odds are you can take advantage of private jet wifi on your next flight—but just how does it work, and when can you expect to use it? Read on to discover the answers to these questions and more.  

staying productive in the air with private jet wifi

In-flight connectivity to WiFi is absolutely necessary for business leaders and frequent private fliers. It’s all part of one of the major benefits of flying private for the business elite: the ability to stay productive in the sky.

As the National Business Aviation Association points out, two thirds of fliers say they are more productive on a private jet than in their office. That’s in part because business aviation allows employees to meet, plan, and work en route to their destination in a private office in the sky—but especially during rapidly-changing situations, the measure of their productivity and success often hinges on being able to communicate quickly with colleagues on the ground. 

If you need to send an email, teleconference with a coworker, work on a presentation, or download a file, you’ll need a WiFi connection. Fortunately, many modern private aircraft come equipped with WiFi technology, and providers like Magellan Jets can work with you to ensure you’ll have the right WiFi solution for your needs. 

Business men businessmen private jet cabin

how does wifi work on private jets?

To understand how WiFi works on private jets, you need to know how WiFi works in general.

Most domestic flights in the US use air-to-ground systems for their WiFi connections. As the name suggests, this kind of connection is only appropriate if your aircraft is flying over land. These ground-based systems work very similarly to normal cell phones. In a nutshell, a private jet has an antenna installed at the base of the fuselage. 

That antenna can then receive signals from WiFi towers located on the ground. As the aircraft is in flight, it picks up the network from the cell towers that it flies over, retransmitting those signals to customers using WiFi points that are installed throughout the cabin walls.

The other kind of private jet WiFi system is satellite-based Internet. This is oftentimes preferred for many private jets since you can get access to higher speeds. This system involves your aircraft antenna receiving signals from satellites in orbit around the earth so you can receive Internet anywhere you go, even over the ocean.

Weather satellite for observing powerful thunderstorms of storms and tornadoes in space orbiting the earth. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

With satellite Internet, there are two types of WiFi connection you can receive.

The first is Ku-band WiFi, which operates in 12 to 18 GHz frequency ranges. With this kind of WiFi, you can get download speeds of between 3 MB per second and 12 MB per second. It’s a good WiFi speed for basic emailing, instant messaging, and other light remote work tasks.

The second is Ka-band WiFi, which operates in 26.5 to 40 GHz frequency ranges. This allows faster Internet download and upload speeds, so it’s ideal if you ever want to view media or want several team members to work on a project simultaneously.

Both of these connections are the only kinds you can use when you travel internationally or when you travel across the ocean—because when you fly over the ocean, there are no land-based towers with which aircraft can connect.

You have to connect to satellite-based Internet when you travel internationally because different countries’ cell phones and connectivity towers differ in terms of their construction, connection requirements, and so on. Your aircraft’s WiFi antenna can’t simply hop from a cell phone tower in the United States to one from Mexico, for example.

how fast is wifi on private jets?

Satellite WiFi speeds on private jets can be anywhere between 3 MB per second and 20 MB per second or even higher. It all depends on the kind of satellite connection you use.

Ground-based WiFi connections, meanwhile, usually offer around 10 MB per second overall. For context, this is similar to the WiFi speeds you can expect when you connect outside an aircraft. If your connection is stable, you shouldn’t see many, if any, differences in terms of download speed, lost data packets, and so on.

Given these speed differences, it’s important to know what you need to do while you are mid-flight before connecting to a WiFi network.

do all private jets have wifi?

No, WiFi connectivity isn’t always included on smaller or older jets. For instance, if you book a small turboprop for a very short-distance private trip, you may not be able to get access to WiFi networks even though you are relatively close to the ground. Fortunately, many modern and larger private jets do offer WiFi access in one way or another. This even includes light jets.

As an example, Magellan’s Phenom 300 Jet Card comes with guaranteed WiFi connectivity, all with the cost-effectiveness and flexibility of a light jet private charter. With Magellan, you can always find the right aircraft and WiFi setup for your unique needs, whether you need to check your email a few times or tackle work over several hours in the midst of a big trip.

Close-up photo of a beautiful woman in a casual outfit, who is talking on the phone and surfing the Internet on the laptop during her flight.

how much does private jet wifi cost?

Depending on your provider, the program you’re utilizing to fly, or the nature of your flight, your WiFi could be included in the cost of your trip—or it could cost you up to thousands of dollars. Make sure to ask your provider about the costs associated with WiFi on your trip so you aren’t caught off-guard. 

domestic flights

Land-based WiFi connections are much more affordable, and may even be included in your trip cost or hourly rate depending on the provider you’ve chosen. Magellan Jets, for example, includes complimentary WiFi on all midsize-and-larger Jet Cards when customers purchase 50 hours or more.

But keep in mind that offering complimentary WiFi is far from universal in the private aviation industry. Some private jet providers and chartering companies will bill you each time you connect to WiFi, whether that’s land-based WiFi or satellite-based Internet. This can be an important factor when choosing your chartering company! 

international flights

Even companies that offer complimentary WiFi normally charge when you connect to the Internet on an international flight, because satellite internet connections are quite expensive.

On average, you should expect to pay anywhere between $7 and $10 per megabyte you download from an internet-based satellite connection while traveling internationally. This is doubly true if you fly over the ocean. Depending on how much data you need to download and how long you need your connection to stay stable, you could pay thousands of dollars by the end of your trip.

Naturally, basic things like checking your email or sending an instant message or two won’t run up a very exorbitant bill—but if you choose to download a movie in high definition, be prepared for a high cost.

private jet wifi with magellan jets

When you schedule your private flights with Magellan, our experienced aviation consultants will work hard to ensure you have access to high-speed, consistent in-flight WiFi. When you tell us private jet WiFi is a priority, we’ll source you the right aircraft that will let you stay connected and productive in the air.

At Magellan Jets, we provide specialized services like this to our clients all the time. Looking for the perfect aviation solution to fit your needs, or the needs of your business? Get in touch with us today to learn more.

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