Connexion by Boeing: In-flight Internet Access Takes Off

By Jonathan Spira on 25 November 2005
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Lufthansa has offered FlyNet in-flight Internet service (powered by Connexion by Boeing) since mid-2004; recently, the airline added the service to New York flights ( it was launched on the Los AngelesMunich route).  Here is a test drive.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005, 11,000 m over Europe
As soon as we reached cruising altitude, my computer detected Wi-Fi and I logged into FlyNet.  Seat power outlets are conveniently located and I had a choice of U.S. or the European Schuko connection systems.  I started off with simple chores, such as checking the news (I decided NOT to grab a handful of newspapers as I boarded, opting – hoping – to see the more current online versions).

With Lotus Notes replicating my mail and other databases in the background, I started receiving Sametime instant messages from colleagues.  Briefly put, my initial experience (discounting last week’s flight) with FlyNet was very positive.  Granted, it was relatively slow (I did several speed tests and it was marginally faster than GPRS) but we WERE, after all, at 11,000 m cruising along at 860 km/h.

After reading some e-mail, I called home using Skype (quality was decent), checked my voicemail, upgraded iTunes, did some online banking – in short, nothing extraordinary, absent the venue.

The author, connected to the Internet on board Lufthansa Flight 410 to JFK

My neighbor in seat 3J, Frau Frowein, lives in Munich and was visiting New York for the first time.  She had some questions for me about things to do, so I suggested we look online at some information about events for the upcoming week in New York – another good use for FlyNet.  I also recommended a concert at Carnegie Hall, so we looked at the program and she and I booked a ticket for her for a concert with Hilary Hahn.  We also e-mailed her daughter (Frau Frowein had never used e-mail before).

About 3 hours into the flight, I briefly lost the connection but the service was flawless from that point forward.

Last Tuesday’s flight took place entirely during business hours in the United States.  We departed at 15:15 local time, which is 09:15 in New York.  We landed at 18:25 New York time.  This represents an entire day – and given the pace at which the knowledge economy moves – missing one day is more than many can afford.

–Jonathan B. Spira is the Editor of Executive Road Warrior and Chief Analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm.

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