Media reports in Finland suggest that up to 100 members of Finnair cabin crew have been sacked after a major internal investigation revealed flight attendants were fraudulently accessing in-flight WiFi. The Helsinki-based airline has confirmed that an investigation is underway but has refused to state how many cabin crew, if any, have been sacked as a result of the inquiry.
Finnair provides between 30-60 minutes of free in-flight WiFi for Business Class customers on all enabled aircraft. To access the service, Business Class passengers are provided with a single-use access code. According to the Finnish news agency STT, the cabin crew were using these access codes without the permission of either the passengers or the airline.
It appears that a loophole allowed cabin crew to assign new access codes for passengers which meant no one was initially aware of the ‘fraud’. Up to 100 members of cabin crew were allegedly involved in the scheme and eventually, the airline became aware and started an investigation.
It’s not yet clear how the airline identified which flight attendants had illicility used the access codes but it appears that wider abuse of the system was identified after the airline’s security department started an investigation into an individual case.
The Finnish tabloid Iltalehti suggests investigators were able to trace which crew members were responsible because they used their personally assigned work smartphones to fraudulently use the access codes. All Finnair cabin crew are given smartphones to complete tasks including accessing manuals and selling onboard Duty Free.
Jari Toivonen, who chairs the Finnish Cabin Crew Association SLSY has confirmed he is aware of the investigation but could not provide any further details about the number of dismissals stemming from the probe. Toivonen told reporters that the investigation is continuing and more flight attendants might face disciplinary action.
Finnair told us that it had apologised to passengers who had been unable to access onboard WiFi because of the scam. A spokesperson for the airline told us:
“Unauthorised use of customer internet access point is against Finnair policy, the instructions are unambiguous. We are investigating the misuse of internet access of over 100 cabin crew members.”
The statement continued: “The internal investigation and hearing process is still on-going. The consequences vary depending on the severity of the misuse. Blatant and systematic misuse can lead to termination of employment.”