Lufthansa FlyNet In-Flight Internet Review and Test Drive

By Jonathan Spira on 30 March 2011
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The aircraft cabin, until recently, was considered a kind of sanctum, where one could escape the bombardment of e-mail, instant messages, tweets, Facebook notifications, and text messages.

This report, however, was filed today from seat 3C on board a scheduled Lufthansa flight from New York (EWR) to Frankfurt (FRA).  Flight 485 took off today shortly after 10 p.m. and once we reached 10,000 feet, I took out my laptop and logged in. ,

Although Lufthansa offered an Internet service starting in 2004, that service ended roughly two years later when Boeing pulled the plug on the Connexion by Boeing service.   In 2008, American Airlines became the first domestic airline to offer in-flight Internet access on select routes and other U.S. airlines quickly followed suit.

At the end of 2010, Lufthansa relaunched FlyNet on select North Atlantic routes in Airbus 330 aircraft.  Lufthansa has already started to outfit its A340 fleet (I am on an A340 today) and this will be followed by the Boeing 747s.  When Lufthansa takes delivery of the new Boeing 747-800 aircraft, it will come with FlyNet already installed.  Planning for the Airbus 380 (of which Lufthansa already has several in service) is underway but has not finalized at the time this article went to press.  [Editor’s note: for up-to-date information on FlyNet, see our FlyNet FAQ.]

Just like the original Connexion-based service, the new FlyNet service also uses the Ku radio band. The service is offered in conjunction with Panasonic Avionics and the technology supports virtually all online activities including access to a VPN (virtual private network), e-mail, social networking, instant messaging, and Web browsing.

Deutsche Telekom, using its familiar T-Mobile brand, is Panasonic’s partner and serves as the Internet service provider while also handling billing and customer support.  The service is advertised to support downloads at speeds of up to 5 Mbps with upload speeds as fast as 1 Mbps.


Once I fired up my IBM ThinkPad, it immediately saw the FlyNet hotspot.  Setting up an account and logging in took just a few minutes and soon I was on line, the first time I have been able to do this over the Atlantic Ocean in six years.

My first speed test showed a download speed of 1.07 Mbps and an upload speed of 0.12 Mbps.  My second test, just a few minutes later, showed the download speed was 2.85 Mbps with upload at 0.24 Mbps.  The speed stayed consistently in the 2.x range throughout the flight.
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