Finnair launched high-speed internet connectivity on its narrow-body Airbus fleet on European flights today. From July 19 onwards, Finnair passengers can enjoy in-flight internet service – even gate-to-gate – enabling each customer to use the internet as they do on the ground, from web surfing and online shopping to listening to music and even watching movies and TV shows from popular video streaming services. This is delivered through the Viasat 12 Mbps/passenger system on the KA-SAT satellite operated by the Eutelsat/Viasat wholesale services joint venture.
We are very happy that we can offer our customers something truly special, a state-of-the-art internet connection on our European flights. Customers can also enjoy the services we provide online through our Nordic Sky portal, such as the latest digital newspapers and shopping possibilities. Having an internet connection onboard also enables us to introduce new tools for our crew to improve the customer experience on our flights. – Piia Karhu, senior vice president, Customer Experience at Finnair
The system is active on six aircraft today according to the airline. More than two dozen planes have the hardware installed, suggesting a staged activation of the service similar to the rollout SAS pursued earlier this summer. The full fleet of 36 Airbus single-aisle aircraft are expected to be online by the beginning of the 2019 Summer season. As is typical for airlines the installations occur more in the winter season as aircraft utilization is lower.
Got lucky with my CPH-HEL aircraft today as it is one of six @Finnair Airbus A32S aircraft with the new ViaSat Wi-Fi. Currently sitting at the gate in CPH and this is looking promising. Looking forward to test inflight shortly. #PaxEx #showmethemegabits pic.twitter.com/ushUXpU2ht
— Olli Vainio (@ovainio) July 19, 2018
As is typical for inflight connectivity solutions the Finnair offering includes the Nordic Sky Portal, a free option for passengers to enjoy various digital services including news, shopping, access to Finnair Customer Care and flight connection details.
Helsinki’s position relatively northeast in Europe gives is a strategic advantage for connecting passengers from the Continent into Asia. It also presents a challenge on the connectivity front. A significant number of the shorthaul routes fly across Latvia and Lithuania, two countries that limit access to the internet services in their airspace. This results in a “some restrictions” as the planes transit those countries, though the system reconnects outside the affected airspace. Parts of Belarus and Russia also apply similar limitations, though the number of flights crossing those countries is lower. It is unclear exactly what “some restrictions” means in this context; it could be a full outage or just some services/sites unavailable. A request for clarification is pending at this time.
The service is currently free for passengers; Finnair expects to announce a price structure after the initial two month testing period completes.
Header image: OH-LZC Finnair A321 @ HEL by Valentin Hintikka via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0