It was a short flight starting and ending at the Copenhagen airport, but it was enough to show a planeload of journalists how well the new Viasat in-flight Wi-Fi works on Scandinavian Airlines (SAS). With seven of the airlines narrow-body aircraft now live with Viasat’s 12 Mbps service — and a total of 31 slated to be in service by the end of this month — the May 15 media flight marked a new era in connectivity for the carrier.
“We have made a big investment in our in-flight Wi-Fi product to ensure our customers enjoy the best in-flight internet experience,” said Therese Lorenius, vice president of product and services at SAS.
SAS joins other airlines such as JetBlue, United, American, Qantas, El Al and others that have switched to Viasat service.
“We’re proud to help SAS become the first Nordic airline to launch high-speed internet in the skies — making the fully connected aircraft a reality,” said Don Buchman, general manager and vice president of Commercial Aviation at Viasat. “Viasat’s satellite-based in-flight internet service is the gold standard for in-flight Wi-Fi. We tap the power of our satellites to enable a service that is 10 times faster than traditional in-flight Wi-Fi services.”
The SAS media flight hosted 27 travel and aviation writers who put the service through its paces with emails, web browsing, blog posting and, of course, streaming video. With 66 sessions logged, the response was overwhelmingly positive.
“First ever blog post I’ve written and published from a plane while flying!” Tweeted travel writer Janicke Hansen.
Writing on the aviation website Runway Girl, writer Marisa Garcia noted how well video streaming worked over the Viasat network:
“I uploaded and shared short videos via Twitter while running other apps in the background … and watched an episode of the Norwegian and English cross-over comedy Norsemen on Netflix … with responsiveness and picture quality superior to watching Netflix programming on a 4G mobile connection on the train.”
While SAS had connectivity on some of its aircraft previously, this week’s launch marked the first ones
equipped with 12 Mbps download service from Viasat on its narrow-body short- and medium-haul fleet. Starting with the 31 aircraft ready for passenger service by the end of May, about 40 are expected to be equipped by September. Rollout on most of the remaining fleet is expected to be largely complete by 2020.
On its flights between Scandinavia and Europe, SAS will offer the Viasat service free to its EuroBonus Diamond and Gold passengers, as well as passengers who purchase SAS Plus premium economy tickets. Other passengers will be able to access the service for $4.90 per flight. Passengers will have gate-to-gate access to the internet for streaming and other online activity at much faster speeds than that offered on most other airlines.
The SAS Wi-Fi product uses the latest antenna and Wi-Fi technology from Viasat, which connects to Viasat’s high-capacity satellite in Europe — which sits approximately 22,000 miles above the Earth — to enable fast streaming, web browsing and more — all at 35,000 feet.
Lorenius said providing this kind of service is essential for a flying public used to high-speed connectivity on the ground.
“Fast and stable Wi-Fi is a service passengers ask for today,” she said. “Both leisure passengers who want to watch their favorite TV show on holiday and business flyers who want to work onboard, need a high-speed and trustworthy internet service when they are online. It is not just an investment in the internet; it is an investment in an extraordinary customer experience for our passengers.”
This short video shows a portion of the installation process for putting Viasat Internet service on an SAS aircraft.
Isabella Lenhoff is a senior marketing specialist with the Viasat commercial aviation team.