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Table of Contents
- Finnair's Aircraft with WiFi
- WiFi Price on European Routes
- Steps to Connect to the Internet
- Quality of Internet Connection
- WiFi User Experience
- What Needs to Be Improved?
- Are We Happy with Finnair´s WiFi?
More and more airlines have an in-flight WiFi service with internet connectivity. One of them is Finland's national carrier, Finnair, which has introduced Nordic Sky portal in Airbus aircraft. You can connect to the portal with any WiFi-enabled device and the portal offers paid internet connectivity service. For example, you can use your phone, tablet or computer to browse the internet.h
Finnair's Aircraft with WiFia
Finnair's long-haul aircraft, like Airbus A350, have been equipped with WiFi already for the long time. During the recent years, Finnair has introduced WiFi also to the narrow-body Airbus fleet and now WiFi is available on almost every European flight that is operated by Finnair itself. WiFi is a paid service for economy passengers, not a complimentary one unlike on Norwegian's flights.
On European flights, internet connection is free of charge in the business class and also for Finnair Plus Gold and Platinum members. However, you can use free internet only for 30 minutes which is a very short time. Only Finnair Plus Platinum Lumo members get free WiFi for the whole duration of the flight.
WiFi Price on European Routes
We have tested Finnair's internet connection on multiple intra-European flights between the years 2019 and 2021. There have always been two price categories. In late 2021, they had the following price tags.
- Stream connection: 14,95 euros
- Browse connection: 6,95 euros
It is possible to stream music via Finnair's Stream Connection. Because there is constant background noise in the cabin, you need good headphones. Otherwise, listening to music won't be an enjoyable experience.
According to Finnair, a Stream connection is the best for streaming video or music and you are also able to open VPN connections. Technically, this means that there are no firewall rules blocking streaming or VPN connections. We guess that connections in the Stream class are also prioritized higher if the network gets congested. Finnair promises the maximum speed of 15 Mbit/s which should be enough for basic browsing activity.
Browse Connection is a lighter version of internet connectivity. It is suitable for web browsing and sending emails. Also instant messaging, like WhatsApp, works well. Other use cases are restricted by the firewall. For example, you can't stream videos from YouTube. The promised speed of this connection class is also 15 Mbit/s.
On our flights during 2021, we noticed that there is also a free internet option. By watching a short advertisement, you get 15 minutes of free internet time. By buying activities from GetYourGuide with the minimum spending of 50 euros, you get 1-hour of free internet. GetYourGuide is an international company selling activities and tours for travellers.
Steps to Connect to the Internet
You can connect to Finnair´s WiFi with any ordinary device supporting WiFi. After successfully connecting, your device normally redirects you to a login page. However, if nothing happens, you can browse manually to the address nordic-sky.finnair.com to access the portal.
Internet connectivity can be bought on the portal. Firstly, you need to select the connection type and pay it with a payment card or Finnair Plus points. When paying with points, you need to log in to your Finnair Plus account with a username and a password. If you can´t remember the login credentials, it is impossible to reset them during the flight.
Especially on long-distance flights, we use noise-cancelling headphones to reduce the background noise. Listening to music is a nicer experience with less cabin background noise. Check out affordable JBL headphones on Amazon. (#ad)
Challenges on Laptop
According to our experiences, connecting to Finnair WiFi with an Android phone is simple but we had some challenges with a Windows laptop. We were unable to open the Nordic Sky portal after connecting to the WiFi even though we tried many times. Finally, after switching Windows Firewall off, the portal opened. It seems that for some reason, the Windows firewall does not like the technical design of the portal.
Challenges with Payment
It is simple to pay for the internet connection as long as you know your payment card number. We use Curve card that does not have its number printed on the card but you need to check the card details from the Curve application. Because there is no internet connection before the payment, we were unable to check our card number from the application. We also tried to pay with Google Pay but Google Pay needs a working internet connection too. Finnair should allow using Google Pay before the purchase of the internet service to make payments more user-friendly. Currently, the only well-working payment method is to use a physical payment card that has its number written on the card.
Quality of Internet Connection
We made technical measurements of the connections during our flights.
We were using the Browse plan that according to Finnair, is suitable for basic web browsing. Its maximum speed should be 15 Mbit/s. Our speed tests confirmed that the real download speed is almost as high as promised. Finnair's marketing claim seems to be true. It is good to understand that during our tests, there were most likely not many other concurrent users. Since the WiFi service is not free, the number of concurrent users stays low.
The speed of an internet connection is not the whole truth. Also, the connection delay affects a lot on the user experience. When the delay stays high, the internet feels slow because web pages are responding to users' actions delayed. Long delay makes also complicated web pages appear slowly.
Our measurement showed that the connection delay to Finnish servers was about 0,7 seconds (home connections have typically 0,02s). This long delay would never be accepted at home but because the plane's internet goes via satellites, a smaller delay is difficult to achieve. The long delay is just something you must accept. High delay effects, especially on the use of interactive applications but sending emails, instant messaging and web surfing should not be problematic.
Jitter means the variation of the connection delay. High jitter is a sign that the network is congested or otherwise low-quality. According to our measurements, the jitter was small so the network was not congested.
Internet operators tell usually only the downstream speed. On our flights, we tested also the speed from a user to the internet which is called upstream speed. The result was only 1 Mbit/s. Typically, the upstream speed is limited if the total bandwidth is low. A regular user needs only a little upstream data and a low upstream bandwidth barely affects the user experience. It will only be noticeable while uploading large files.
WiFi User Experience
Our measurements showed that the onboard internet service of Finnair is technically good. Good technical values do not guarantee a good user experience. feedback from users is often the best meter.
We wrote the Finnish version of this article on board Finnair. The whole process was smooth. During our flights, the user experience of Finnair's WiFi has been absolutely good.
What Needs to Be Improved?
There is also something to improve. On our flight to Madeira, it took almost 1 hour before the internet was working. There were also a few areas with internet interruptions. A good thing was that the areas were shown before the purchase decision. On our flight to Paris, the internet was usable right away with no interruptions.
Are We Happy with Finnair´s WiFi?
We have paid 6,95 euros for the internet connections that we have been able to use for a few hours on every flight. The WiFi networks and the internet connections have been working well and there has been no congestion. We think that the price is affordable for a well-working aeroplane´s internet connection. We are really happy with the service quality.
Norwegian offers basic internet free of charge, but based on our own flight experiences, the internet connection has been quite unstable. The high amount of users may have been the reason. Almost everyone wants to use Norwegian´s free internet. Finnair has made a good decision to keep its WiFi and internet service chargeable. Now with a small fee, you get well-working internet connectivity to enjoy entertainment or to do some of your office tasks.
Have you tried Finnair's onboard WiFi? Comment below!