To connect to the internet via WiFi (wireless connection) is possible almost everywhere nowadays. In public transportation, every cafe or restaurant. Lately there is a possibility to stay online even on board of planes, which is appreciated on flights longer than one hour. Few weeks ago, I got on the board of a plane where a WiFi connection was available and I was pleasantly surprised and got used to it very quickly.
Like smoking on board, even a cell phone turned off during the flight is a thing of last century (last year I flew with old plane of ČSA and there were ashtrays built-in seats) Those, who are little bit interested in aviation, they did not miss a information, that using cell phones is not dangerous in terms of interference and many airlines offer their customers a phone calls to make for their own prices. I have tried to make a call on board KLM’s flight from Amsterdam to New York, you will get connected from 12 thousand miles above the sea level, thousands miles far from home, but you will get charged to it, of course more than usual. U are not allowed to use your electronic devices during to take off and landing because it is distracting your attention. You are required to be fully considered in case of unlikely events like evacuation or emergency landing. On the other hand, cell phones may burden roaming network, since they try to connect to more antennas. So in case that someone on the seat next to you will be in the middle of phone call during the take off (as happened to me on flight from Tallinn to Riga) do not blame them for the plane crash that may happen, it is not because that calling lady. The computers are so well developed, that cell phones will not cause the crash. And with telephony, there also comes wireless connection to the internet, that was in the Europe only the mater of time. In US, to connect to the network during your flight is more-less usual thing. There are plenty of airlines that offer connection, some for charge, the others for free.
During my flight from the airport in Tallinn to Oslo with Norwegian airlines, I had an opportunity to try internet connection. This airline is proud to be first in Europe, that will get you online in the skies on selected flights. Its primacy is presented by airline pretty often, but you will get online only in new machines. WiFi is available few minutes after take off, when seat belt sign is switched off. You may be informed by crew about this availability, but it is not rule. By the March 2014, there are online 74 Boeings 737-800 (1) what is respectable number. You can check first on ther website, if you flight will be online.
To connect is pretty simple. Just switch your WiFi receiver on and you will get connected. To get online, open random webpage and you will be redirected to a page where you have to tick that you accept their terms and conditions. By clicking on planes picture above, you will see, what Norwegian offers. Connection on board of Norwegian’s flights is pretty fast and signal is excellent. I have tried skype as well, and it worked better than on the ground. Sound was clear and screen wasn’t blurry. You can use wide offer of on-board entertainment, turn on TV if you are connected with computer, or select a random movie to watch. Curious will appreciate „flight tracker“ which displays current position of aircraft, time to destination and local time in destination. You can use other websites as well, the work properly. I have tried Facebook and YouTube and they don’t seem to be loaded with any problems.
Internet on board of this Norwegian’s flight has pleasantly surprised me and I congratulate to this airline to be first in Europe. What is the most important, this connection is completely free and unlimited. The funny thing is, that this low cost airlines is in this further than that big fishes as Air France or British Airways or KLM, hat have connection as well, but only in limited form. KLM has connected only one Boeing 777 and Air France will charge you 10,95 EUR per hour of connection (2).According to Air France video (3) to get plane connected, it is necessary to insert an antenna in the front of aircraft and cables along the whole cabin. It is easy to understand, that old planes are not online, because it takes a lot of time re-open and old plane and insert cables and antenna. Time is money, would do it?
I find connection to the internet during the flight as a very useful tool in 21st century. Now, when everyone has smartphone or tablet, it makes it very easy to answer mails, private messages or get connected with family. I believe, that Norwegian will get connected all it’s flights soon and the other airlines will do the same. In the competitive struggle, Norwegian airlines is very far now and airlines as Air France or British Airways have a long way to go to get as good,as Norwegian is now in on board connection. Norwegian airlines wifi was great surprise!
Milan Bardún 2014