Woman using a smartphone on a plane

Vodafone launches international in-flight data roaming

With international travel well and truly back in full swing, telcos are jumping to address the long-time customer pain point of overseas roaming bill shock. There’s plenty of plans on offer for Aussies once they hit foreign soil, but in-flight options haven’t been as readily available – until now.

Vodafone has announced it’s game-changing $5 Roaming feature is coming to hundreds of flights on selected airlines, making it simpler than ever to connect to the internet outside of Australia.

Customers will now be able to access their Vodafone mobile or data-only SIM plan’s talk, text and data inclusions mid-air, for just $5 per day. The service is enabled by satellite technology, making it completely safe to use your mobile device during your flight.

“We have customers joining Vodafone every day who are sick of the great roaming rip-off. Whether you’re in another country or on your way there, Vodafone is working hard to help you stay connected and save money,” said Kieren Cooney, Vodafone Group Executive, Consumer. 

“For a flat fee of only $5 per day, customers can use their device to stay in touch with loved ones, share their travel selfies, and even get some work done, all while cruising above the clouds. Best of  all, customers won’t have to worry about any hidden costs or bill shock when they arrive home.”

What does Vodafone’s $5 Roaming include?

$5 Roaming includes all the main features of your domestic Vodafone plan – so you’ll get voice calls, messaging, and use of your monthly high-speed data allowance. However, one notable exclusion is speed-capped data: this is the additional data use, capped at two megabits per second (Mbps), that’s available across current Vodafone plans if you’ve used up your full-speed gigabyte inclusions. Vodafone customers can’t access this outside of Australia, so unfortunately your data use won’t be unlimited when overseas.

Customers should also be aware that Vodafone describes its on-board download and upload speeds as “3G-like”. Most other in-flight WiFi services tend to offer speeds up to 15Mbps at most, which is around what you can expect with 3G. So while your experience should be fine for general browsing and standard streaming, you may struggle with large downloads or viewing media in ultra-HD.

The good news is that if you’ve activated your $5 daily roaming for your flight, and land in a $5 Roaming eligible country within 24 hours, your daily pass will still be valid. So you won’t be charged an additional $5 until a new 24-hour cycle begins, and even then only if you keep using your Vodafone plan inclusions.

Outside of flights, Vodafone’s $5 Roaming is available in more than 100 countries. You can use Vodafone roaming for up to 90 full days per calendar year.

Which Vodafone plans are eligible for $5 Roaming?

Customers on current Vodafone SIM-only and phone-a-plan options can access $5 Roaming, as well as those on older plans no longer available to new sign-ups (such as Red or Infinite plans). You should also be eligible if you’re on a mobile broadband or tablet/data plan.

Vodafone’s SIM-only mobile plans begin at $45 per month for 80GB of full-speed data, along with unlimited standard national calls and texts in Australia. All plans include access to Vodafone’s 5G network where available.

Here is a selection of Vodafone postpaid SIM plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Try using our mobile phone plan comparison tool to see a wide range of plans from other providers. This table may include products with links to referral partners.

How do I use $5 Roaming on flights?

Vodafone’s $5 Roaming is available in-flight from the following international airlines:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Air Belgium
  • Air Portugal
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Bangladesh Airlines
  • Cathay Pacific
  • EgyptAir
  • Emirates
  • Etihad
  • Eva Air
  • ITA Airways
  • Kuwait Airways
  • Lufthansa
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • SAS
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Swiss
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Uzbekistan Airways

To enable the service, make sure that roaming is activated on your device via your My Vodafone app or web portal. Once on your flight, keep your device in airplane mode until after take-off; once the pilot gives passengers the all-clear, you can then switch off flight mode and access talk, text and data through your Vodafone connection.

Postpaid offers you might like

The following table shows a selection of sponsored SIM Only plans on Canstar Blue’s database with links to referral partners.

What are my other international roaming options?

Vodafone isn’t the only major telco to offer a simplified daily international roaming option. Telstra customers on selected plans can access the provider’s Day Pass, which is available for $10 per day in over 70 countries ($5 per day in New Zealand). This add-on gives you 1GB of data to use each day, along with unlimited calls and SMS. Customers can also add extra data at the rate of $10 per gigabyte, to be used over 31 days.

Optus’ Daily Roaming is priced at $5 per day for 5GB of data, along with unlimited standard talk and texts. It’s accessible in more than 100 destinations, and is available on a range of Optus postpaid plans, including Optus Choice Plus, Optus Plus, family and business plans.

Many smaller telcos also give customers the option to buy roaming add-ons, with Belong, Boost Mobile and Amaysim each launching new travel packs in the last 12 months. All three telcos offer a range of add-on data, talk and text plans, which can be used outside Australia and feature expiries between three and 365 days.

Of course, none of these roaming packs are suitable to use mid-flight, which is where Vodafone’s $5 Roaming now has a key advantage. In-flight WiFi is now common on most international airlines, but pricing and availability varies greatly between airlines and even aircraft models.

Some flights offer WiFi free to business and first class passengers or airline rewards members, but require economy travellers to pay a fee, often per hour of use. In Australia, Qantas offers free WiFi use on selected domestic and international flights; on Virgin Australia flights, economy travellers can purchase an in-flight internet pass, with complimentary access available to Beyond, Business Class and Velocity Platinum guests.

Activating Vodafone’s $5 per day roaming – and accessing your existing plan’s talk, text and data – is an easy way to ensure you can stay connected on long-haul flights. However, as with all international roaming add-ons and extras, be careful: $5 per day can add up quickly, so make sure to take advantage of free WiFi where available if you’re concerned about bill shock.

Tara Donnelly
Utilities Editor
Tara Donnelly is an internet and mobile expert - sectors she’s spent a decade covering - and also oversees energy and consumer technology content. She holds a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Canberra and has shared her expertise on national media including 9 News, 7 News, Sunrise and the ABC.

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