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Inflight Wifi Experience A350 (Panasonic) vs 777 (Gogo)

Inflight Wifi Experience A350 (Panasonic) vs 777 (Gogo)

Old Dec 11, 19, 12:09 am
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Inflight Wifi Experience A350 (Panasonic) vs 777 (Gogo)

I want to start a thread about wifi experiences between the A350 and 777 aircraft.

The A350 uses a Panasonic system, while the 777 uses Gogo.

In my experience of about 20 flights with wifi, all on SFO-HKG-SFO, I have been on the 777 about 75% of the time. Speeds have been consistently good from start to finish.

However, when on the A350, I log on right away once the aircraft reaches 10,000 ft. Speeds are good at first, then deteriorate so rapidly (presumably as more people log on), that a 2 sentence WhatsApp message takes about 15-20 seconds to go through. No webpages open, and forgot about sending/receiving any emails - especially with a small attachment. Then about 4-5+ hours into the flight, when presumably people are asleep, wifi speeds improve vastly again to about what I get on the 777 all of the time.

I have seen this on about 4-5 flights, all between HKG-SFO. There was no polar route or Russian airspace involved. I have talked to another traveler on a flight who had the same experience with wifi on the A350 vs 777. A crew member also told me she gets repeated complaints about wifi on the A350, but never on the 777.

I sent in a complaint form to CX (at the request of a crew member), and received a reply back with email contacts for Gogo and Panasonic to take up the matter with them myself. I'm not sure how that will help, other than to brush aside my complaint. Cathay knows the technical details of both vendors, so they should be the ones to investigate, rather than ask me to contact them. And Cathay is the only one who can get Panasonic to improve their speeds (if that is even possible) - certainly not me.

I am wondering if others can share their experiences ?
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Old Dec 11, 19, 12:54 am
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Great thread.

I've been regularly buying wifi on CX since they launched the A359 in 2016. I think I've used it more than you total, I think less than 50x but definitely more than 20x. But my pattern is far more short haul and definitely less than you long haul. Im certain I've only used wifi on CX longhaul less than 10x.

I think there must be something going on with more people using WiFi now. Or maybe Americans use it more. Or less people use it short haul. Or all of the above.

Speed wise, all else equal the 777 wins vs A350 by a lot. We're all clear on that the 777 has excellent wifi. But I have a positive impression of the A350 wifi, it was actually pretty good when it launched in 2016-2017. I have use it almost all short haul, except for three flights. First was to Paris in 2016, then another Paris, then my last longhaul A350 wifi was early 2018 to YVR. But I remember thinking there was no difference between my first use to Paris and my use to Taipei, Singapore and Bangkok. Good enough, not ground internet obviously but not totally impossible to use like some EK A380 flights, some old SQ flights, JAL sometimes and QR too. Those can be worthless wifi experiences and I never had that on CX.

I think back then, in hindsight maybe nobody was using it. It was rare to get WiFi enabled aircraft in CX then after all. And short haul flights maybe don't have the same value proposition. Because we have so many people here now saying wifi has problems, they can't be crazy!

I have never flown the A350 longhaul to the US. Only 777 (and 747 before that). The 777 wifi is fine as far as I can tell. But now that CX is regularly flying the A350 to the US very regularly, including 2x daily to your destination SFO, maybe it is being tested in a way I'm not familiar with. And now wifi is effectively across the entire CX longhaul fleet, while 2 years ago it was still rare. Probably tons of users concurrently. I remember another post someone saying the ISM told them there is an issue with too many users on the A350 at once.

It's unfortunate if true, because base case the A350 wifi was good. Not great but definitely better than JAL, SQs old wifi and QRs old wifi. It was definitely serviceable. Obviously the 777 wifi is amazing.

I last used wifi last week, on an A35K ex-Tokyo. I have a receipt from Panasonic. It was very good and just as I remember from a few years go. Not as fast as 777 but perfectly fine for web browsing, writing emails, using and editing cloud based documents. Not bad at all.
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Old Dec 11, 19, 6:39 am
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I honestly don't think the problem is route specific. Prior to the change in the winter schedule the daytime SFO-HKG-SFO flight (870/879) was always a 777, and wifi was always fine.

It's only since the change to the A350 that I have felt the slow speeds.

It makes no sense to me that CX would settle for an inferior wifi product from Panasonic for their A350.

I am wondering who is to blame in this - Panasonic or Cathay trying to save on costs somehow on a lower capacity product from Panasonic.

Regardless, this is very disappointing.
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Old Dec 11, 19, 6:44 am
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The A350 were the very first CX planes to have wifi, which is supplied by Panasonic. So I don’t think they chose Panasonic to cut costs. On why they used a different provider on their 777s, that I do not know.
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Old Dec 11, 19, 8:25 am
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Have used Wifi YYZ to HKG return on both 777 and A35K the A350 is a tad slower but for my purposes not by much and not significant for me to notice. Also the Wifi was $ 7.00 USD cheaper each way for full flight on the A350 so I was happy about that.
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Old Dec 11, 19, 8:32 pm
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Originally Posted by eagle215 View Post
Have used Wifi YYZ to HKG return on both 777 and A35K the A350 is a tad slower but for my purposes not by much and not significant for me to notice. Also the Wifi was $ 7.00 USD cheaper each way for full flight on the A350 so I was happy about that.
I havenít seen a lower rate between the 777 and A350. $19.99 either aircraft for the entire flight
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Old Dec 11, 19, 8:35 pm
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Originally Posted by eagle215 View Post
Have used Wifi YYZ to HKG return on both 777 and A35K the A350 is a tad slower but for my purposes not by much and not significant for me to notice. Also the Wifi was $ 7.00 USD cheaper each way for full flight on the A350 so I was happy about that.
Originally Posted by CommittedLurker View Post
I havenít seen a lower rate between the 777 and A350. $19.99 either aircraft for the entire flight
IME the charges are $12.95 for full-flight short haul, and $19.99 for full-flight long-haul.

Perhaps they messed up and gave the short-haul rate for the long-haul flight?
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Old Dec 11, 19, 9:03 pm
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Originally Posted by QRC3288 View Post
IME the charges are $12.95 for full-flight short haul, and $19.99 for full-flight long-haul.

Perhaps they messed up and gave the short-haul rate for the long-haul flight?
Perhaps a mistake by Cathay....Tentseller also can confirm this as he took a different YYZ-HK flight (long haul) and was charged only $12.95 also.

See thread on "wifi on 777"
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Old Dec 11, 19, 11:45 pm
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Personally, I find the Gogo systems to be miles ahead of Panasonic in terms of speed. The only thing I miss when not flying the A350 is the live tv stations that Panasonic offers.

There have also been a couple of A350 flights where the wifi is not working and the crew tell me there is no way for them to reset the system. Its happened to me at least 3 times this year.

Has anyone here heard anything about the type of wifi CX plans to install on the 777-9 and the new 321's for KA?

Last edited by jetsetter1k; Dec 11, 19 at 11:46 pm Reason: Added section about 350 reliability.
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Old Dec 12, 19, 12:16 am
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Originally Posted by jetsetter1k View Post
Personally, I find the Gogo systems to be miles ahead of Panasonic in terms of speed. The only thing I miss when not flying the A350 is the live tv stations that Panasonic offers
Totally agree

Cathay has to be aware of the shortcomings of the Panasonic system. I am surprised that they ignore this while heavily advertising the WiFi enabled A350 aircraft.
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Old Dec 12, 19, 12:36 am
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Originally Posted by CommittedLurker View Post
Totally agree

Cathay has to be aware of the shortcomings of the Panasonic system. I am surprised that they ignore this while heavily advertising the WiFi enabled A350 aircraft.
To be fair, I don't think many of us were aware of the issues until lately. At least I wasn't! And it's not uniform.

In my case, with most my A350 flights being short-haul, the advertisements were okay - I haven't experienced the issues described, despite tons of flights on the A350 with WiFi. I continue to get great service on the short-hauls I take the A350, as noted above just last week from NRT I had excellent A350 WiFi. My guess is, as is the norm in Asia most people weren't using WiFi on board. (this is in contrast to America, where I've noticed half or more of the plane seems to be on WiFi on flights around the US.)

On the 3 times I did long-haul on the A350s (Paris 2x and Vancouver), it was normal for me, like I was on a regional flight using WiFi. But, as stated above, I've never flown an A350 to the US. I'm American, and do have the anecdotal sense from family and my travels around there that Americans are perhaps the most active WiFi users among CX's passengers. Just from reading here, I also think US flights tend to have very-high WiFi usage. CX might've had a distorted picture. They really only got in the WiFi game a few years ago. And most of their flights were around Asia on the A350, and even when they flew longhaul most people probably didn't realize CX had WiFi yet so user #s were down. Now everyone knows CX has WiFi, and they fly these planes to many US destinations, my bet is user #s are way up especially on US flights. I think they must've realized something was up by choosing Gogo for the B777.

It is indeed annoying, but I'm not sure if anything can be done. And to be fair it's not just CX. And I've experienced utterly dreadful WiFi regularly on EK's A380s, SQ's 777s, JAL's 777s, and Qatar. In the case of EK's A380 WiFi, I'm not sure how much you fly them, but I'm probably doing 8-10x EK sectors a year now. On the A380, WiFi is totally unusable virtually every flight, Whatsapp won't even work at a crawl half the time. Apparently they've (finally, a decade later...) got new WiFi on some A380s, but I haven't experienced it yet. I'm convinced this has to do with user numbers on board , as they basically offer it for free. And you've got 500 or whatever passengers using it at once. Maybe this same problem is going on with the A350s and CX. At least CX seems to have gotten it right with the B777.
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Old Dec 12, 19, 5:45 am
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I once flew to Madrid on a A35K, paid for the WiFi (Full flight). For some reason, the speed was very slow mid-journey over inner China and Siberia, so slow I gave up browsing and went for a nap. I wrote to Panasonic afterwards to complaint the slow speed, they ended up refund the fee in full to my credit card. Not sure if it was a one-off or routine handling approach, but at least they did something to rectify (in terms of refund).
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Old Dec 12, 19, 6:07 am
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Originally Posted by boybi View Post
The A350 were the very first CX planes to have wifi, which is supplied by Panasonic. So I donít think they chose Panasonic to cut costs. On why they used a different provider on their 777s, that I do not know.
The A350 was introduced in 2016 which means that CX would have signed the contract for the wifi in 2013 or earlier. At this point Panasonic was one of the better providers.

Gogo introduced 2ku to the market in 2015 and so the later retrofitting to the 777 allowed CX to use this better technology.
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Old Dec 12, 19, 6:10 pm
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Originally Posted by QRC3288 View Post

It is indeed annoying, but I'm not sure if anything can be done. And to be fair it's not just CX. And I've experienced utterly dreadful WiFi regularly on EK's A380s, SQ's 777s, JAL's 777s, and Qatar. In the case of EK's A380 WiFi, I'm not sure how much you fly them, but I'm probably doing 8-10x EK sectors a year now. On the A380, WiFi is totally unusable virtually every flight, Whatsapp won't even work at a crawl half the time. Apparently they've (finally, a decade later...) got new WiFi on some A380s, but I haven't experienced it yet. I'm convinced this has to do with user numbers on board , as they basically offer it for free. And you've got 500 or whatever passengers using it at once. Maybe this same problem is going on with the A350s and CX. At least CX seems to have gotten it right with the B777.
I have heard about the wifi problems on EK , because they give a free allowance to everyone on board. Great for the people who don't pay for it, but not so good for the ones who want to pay for it and actually get some work done.

I understand what you are saying, but as it seems that CX is getting more A350's, you would think they would address the problem (if at all possible). Poor wifi speeds are a problem now but will only become much worse once these same aircraft are 5-10 years old, as inflight wifi usage increases.
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Old Dec 12, 19, 6:37 pm
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Originally Posted by marcolau317 View Post
I once flew to Madrid on a A35K, paid for the WiFi (Full flight). For some reason, the speed was very slow mid-journey over inner China and Siberia, so slow I gave up browsing and went for a nap. I wrote to Panasonic afterwards to complaint the slow speed, they ended up refund the fee in full to my credit card. Not sure if it was a one-off or routine handling approach, but at least they did something to rectify (in terms of refund).
Experienced the same on same route, but I can connect to Internet after over Kazakhstan until end of flight.
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