I flew Finnair (yes, for the third year in a row) to Europe. While I won’t be reviewing my flights, I’ll be writing some posts about my experiences. On my flights, I had the chance to check out their Nordic Sky portal on both my long-haul flight from Bangkok to Helsinki and my regional connection from Helsinki to Prague. The portal was redesigned last year to make it more user-friendly, which rolled out along with new restrictions on WiFi usage on oneworld elite and Business Class passengers. With that in mind, I thought I’d review the internet service and the WiFi portal.
Finnair Airbus A350 Business Class Wifi
Flight 1: Finnair’s A350 from Bangkok to Helsinki
You can find the Nordic Sky portal by heading to nordic-sky.finnair.com once the no electronics sign has been switched off by the captain. While the portal is activated throughout the flight, the in-flight internet only starts working when the aircraft reaches around 10,000 feet. While the WiFi is supposed to be switched off when below 10,000 feet, the WiFi service on my flight only cut out right after touchdown.
Finnair’s Airbus A350 and A330 aircraft are equipped with Panasonic Satellite WiFi, which is an earlier-generation in-flight WiFi product and is generally slower than newer WiFi products such as ViaSat WiFi or Gogo’s 2Ku service.
The home-page of the WiFi portal features a section with your own flight information. You can also load your connecting flight into the portal, which will give you real-time updates about your next flight including flight status, connection times, and gate information. I believe that you can use the Finnair website free of charge as well, but I’m not quite sure.
There’s also separate tabs for duty-free shopping, a selection of online magazines and reading as well as a customer care tab where passengers can lodge a complaint during the flight.
There are four ways to access the internet: you can pay for access, pre-book it before your flight, or access it via a voucher code (sometimes given by flight attendants to make up for WiFi issues or other service issues). As you can see, Finnair offers a handy guide including the number of people connected to the WiFi at any given time. With the new Nordic Sky system, passengers are no longer able to switch between different devices on the same WiFi plan, which I felt was really restrictive.
Finnair offers one hour of complimentary WiFi access to Business Class, Economy Comfort and Finnair Plus Gold members. Meanwhile, Finnair Plus Platinum and Platinum Lumo members are entitled to full-flight access. As I wrote in a post last year, this is a downgrade from Finnair’s previous policy, where oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members, as well as Business Class flyers, were all granted complimentary full-flight access. Although it’s been a year since this was implemented, I’m still salty about the change, especially considering the fact that it was one of Finnair’s biggest competitive advantages, and they decided to just throw it right down the toilet.
To sign up for complimentary access, simply input your last name and seat number into the system, and the WiFi should automatically connect.
If you’ve burned through all your complimentary access, you can pay for it, with three different plans and payment options, which you can see below. The payment process is pretty simple and efficient, which I really appreciated. I also find the prices to be quite competitive (though obviously not as great as back in the day when they had flight-long free WiFi for premium passengers).
I checked out the WiFi during the flight. The service wasn’t as bad as some people have made it out to be. I was able to use all social media apps like Snapchat and Instagram. However, the loading speeds were generally quite slow and there were little patches during the flight where the WiFi was basically unusable. There is definitely no way to do activities that require more data, such as stream entertainment using FaceTime. Overall, I was satisfied – just barely.
Overall, I thought the WiFi service was fine. I really liked how easy and efficient it was to use the portal, but at the same time was slightly disappointed by the slow speed. I was able to stay connected with no problem though, so I was happy enough on my flight.
Flight 2: Finnair’s A320 from Helsinki to Prague
Finnair is currently trialing WiFi on some of their regional aircraft, and have been installing it at a really quick pace. Looking around Helsinki airport, you’ll see plenty of the narrowbody Airbuses fitted with the little WiFi “hump”, which houses the satellite.
Instead of opting for Panasonic WiFi as you’ll see featured on their long-haul planes, Finnair has decided to go with ViaSat, which is considered to be a “newer” in-flight WiFi product. The ViaSat service allows passengers to use WiFi from gate to gate, and can supposedly support services such as streaming entertainment.
Even though the WiFi provider is different, Finnair has chosen to retain the same Nordic Sky portal that you’ll find on their long-haul aircraft, which I really appreciated, both for the consistency and for the fact that the system interface is really well designed.
As Finnair is still installing WiFi on their narrowbody aircraft, they have decided to offer it for free to act as a trial period and gain feedback on the service. As such, you simply press a button to connect to the internet.
If you choose to join the WiFi without an account, you’ll simply be asked to fill out a quick survey.
After you’ve completed the survey, you’ll be connected to the WiFi.
In contrast to the slightly disappointing WiFi speeds on Finnair’s long-haul aircraft service, I was really impressed by the WiFi on this flight. First, as I’ve mentioned, the service can be used gate-to-gate, unlike on long-haul aircraft where the service is only activated when the aircraft is above 10,000 feet. Next, the speeds were significantly faster and I was able to load websites really quickly. My social media also worked much better than on my long-haul flight. However, it appears the system isn’t quite equipped for streaming, as the YouTube video I decided to watch took quite some time to load and was streamed at a very low-quality 144p.
As you can probably tell by the fact that I even took the time to write this post, I’m a sucker for in-flight WiFi. I don’t really like being disconnected (I know, I’m such a millenial), so it’s a really welcome treat to be able to keep up with the rest of the world while in the air.
Overall, I was pretty satisfied with Finnair’s WiFi options. I really liked the Nordic Sky entertainment portal, which was super easy to use and worked really well, and I was also really satisfied with the WiFi service on my regional flight from Helsinki to Prague. However, I was a tad bit disappointed with the slow speeds on my flight from Bangkok to Helsinki, and I hope Finnair is looking to improve their WiFi service on their long-haul flights – and also give back full-flight complimentary access for Business Class passengers ;).
Which airline features your favourite inflight WiFi?