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More and more airlines are introducing their WiFi service on board. One of them is Finland's national carrier, Finnair which introduced Nordic Sky portal in its short and long-haul aircraft. You can connect to the portal with any WiFi-enabled device and the portal offers an internet connectivity option. For example, you can use your phone, a tablet or computer to browse the internet.
Finnair's Aircraft with WiFi
Finnair's long-haul aircraft have been equipped with WiFi for many years already. Lately, Finnair has introduced WiFi also to 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 in Finnair flights and not a complimentary one unlike in Norwegian's flights.
On European flights, the 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 obviously a very short time. Only Finnair Plus Platinum Lumo members get free WiFi for the whole duration of the flight.
The Price of WiFi on European Routes
We tested Finnair's internet connection on our flight from Helsinki to Funchal, Portugal (2019) with an Airbus A321neo and on our flight from Helsinki to Paris (2020) with similar equipment. There were two connectivity options available.
- Stream connection: 12,95 euros
- Browse connection: 6,95 euros
According to Finnair, 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 the 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 a basic browsing activity.
Browse Connection is a lighter version of the internet connectivity. It is suitable for web browsing and to sending emails. Other operation modes are restricted by a firewall. For example, you can't stream video from YouTube. The promised speed of this connection type is also 15 Mbit/s.
Our Test: the Quality of Connections
We made technical measurements of connections during our flights.
We were using Browse connection 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 use of the internet feels slow because web pages are responding to user's actions delayed. Long delay makes also complicated web pages to 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. It affects 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 planes' networks were not congested.
Internet operators tell usually only the downstream speed. On our flights, we tested also the speed from a user to the internet that is called upstream speed. The result was only 1 Mbit/s. It is typical that the upstream speed is limited if the total bandwidth is low. A regular users needs only a little upstream data and a low upstream bandwidth barely affects internet surfing. It will only be noticeable while uploading large files.
The User Experience of WiFi
Our measurements showed that the on-board internet service of Finnair is technically good. Good technical values do not guarantee a good user experience. A feedback from a user is 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 was 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 and there were no interruptions.
Is Finnair's WiFi Good?
We paid 6,95 euros for the internet connections that we were able to use a few hours. The WiFi network and internet connection were working really well and there were no congestion. We think that is price is really affordable for a well-working internet connection in-flight.
Norwegian offer a basic internet free of charge, but based from our flight experiences, the internet connection has been quite unstable. The high amount of users may be the reason. Almost everyone wants to use a free internet while aboard WiFi-enabled Norwegian aircraft. Finnair has made a good decision to keep its WiFi chargeable. Now with a small fee, you can get well-working internet connectivity may it be for entertainment or to do some of your office tasks.
Have you tried Finnair's onboard WiFi? Comment below!
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