I remember how thrilled I was when wireless became so common place at airports, and although talked about for a few years now, it always surprised me how it hadn’t got onto flights yet. Little did I know that the Internet-on-flights saga has had its twists and turns.
Although never introduced on any American airlines, Internet has been on certain carriers since 2004. The broadband service was initially provided by a Boeing company called Connexion that shut down last year because it didn’t work out to be economically viable — not enough people were making use of broadband Internet in the air.
I suppose things have changed over the last three years and having wireless on aircrafts seems to have come back onto the agenda. From next week, JetBlue Airlines will start offering free email and instant messaging on the aircraft; American Airlines, Virgin America and Alaska Airlines plan to offer wider usage in the following months; and beginning 2008, all Lufthansa long-haul flights will have broadband.
Emirates seems to be leading the pack as it has maintained email and SMS services on its flights since 2004! You don’t even need a laptop, you can do it on a screen behind the seat in front of you. They even have in-seat phones that allow you to call anyone from the sky for US$5 a minute — on average 6,000 calls are made per month, basis which Emirates recently announced that it will be the first airline to allow mobile phone use on board.
Although some awesome material could be gathered from live in-the-sky-blogging, and even though there will be restrictions on connectivity, I don’t see how they would be able to stop people from disturbing others by speaking loudly on the phone or having cybersex through the web-cam. I’m not so sure anymore if I would want this in-flight option, would you?