Norwegian has long bucked the trend of other low-cost airlines by offering WiFi on its entire short-haul aircraft fleet and unlike the majority of full-service competitors, Norwegian’s service is free. In the last 12-months, we’ve also the Oslo-based carrier introduce two other key improvements.
- At the beginning of the year, Norwegian finally started to install WiFi on its long-haul fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners
- Norwegian is slowly upgrading its WiFi hardware to a faster home broadband quality of service
- While free WiFi remains, Norwegian is also introducing a reasonably priced paid-tier that allows faster loading and streaming
So how else could Norwegian improve its already generous WiFi offering? The one annoying thing with in-flight WiFi is that it’s just that – only available in-flight. For a longtime regulators prohibited airlines from offering WiFi from gate-to-gate because they feared that people using their devices during critical phases like taxi, takeoff and landing could interfere with aircraft systems.
Instead, WiFi services were only switched on when the plane reached 10,000 feet meaning that there was a long period where passengers had no access to WiFi.
Thankfully, a number of aviation regulators have actually decided that gate-to-gate WiFi doesn’t pose a risk and we’re slowly starting to see more airlines offer this service. Norwegian has become the latest airline to join the list, although there is a catch…
Gate-to-gate WiFi will only be available in countries where the authorities have started to allow the service. At present, Norwegian says the service will be limited to Scandinavia and most other Norwegian airports.
The European Air Safety Authority (EASA) has actually allowed gate-to-gate communication since 2014 but unfortunately, many local regulators throughout Europe are being a bit more conservative and there’s no real indication of when they might finally give gate-to-gate WiFi a green light.
Despite high-profile financial woes it’s great to see Norwegian continue to invest in the passenger experience. The airline has been forced to make some tough cost-cutting measures in the last few months but it’s interesting how Norwegian continues to differentiate itself from competitors.