Norwegian Air Shuttle has launched its first plane equipped with wifi internet, and the service will initially be available to all passengers free of charge.
The carrier says it is the first airline to offer high-speed broadband on flights within Europe, although SAS will be hot on its heels with its own service due to launch in April (see online news October 28, 2010).
Norwegian says it will have 11 aircraft fitted with in-flight internet by this summer, with the technology set to be installed on 21 planes by the end of the year, and 41 aircraft by 2012. All of the carrier’s new Boeing 737-800s will feature the service, with Norwegian’s B737-300s being gradually phased out by between now and the end of 2012.
The carrier is initially offering the service free of charge “during the launch period”. No details are given of when a charge will be introduced or how much passengers can expect to pay, although Norwegian says that “it will not be more expensive than using wifi on the ground”.
The airline adds that usage will be “basically unlimited”, although it will “enforce control to make sure that everyone who is online will get a good experience”. Norwegian adds that it will “will attempt to filter inappropriate content as well as voice (VoIP) applications”.
As for which routes are likely to see the wifi-enabled aircraft, the carrier says that they will be used “throughout our route network”, although passengers will be advised via SMS two hours before departure whether their plane will feature the service.
Norwegian is using US firm Row 44 to supply its wifi services. The company also provides wifi technology to Southwest Airlines.
For more information visit norwegian.com.
Report by Mark Caswell