Cathay Pacific to launch in-flight WiFi; mobile device connectivity

It’s one thing to connect in-flight from coast-to-coast, it’s another thing to connect when you’re flying across the world! Travel writers, business executives, and Internet-junkies rejoice: Cathay Pacific has just announced it will launch long-haul in-flight WiFi in 2012!

The Hong Kong-based airline plans to roll out broadband Internet onboard their fleet and Dragonair planes starting in early 2012, thanks to some help from Panasonic Avionics Corporation, a worldwide supplier of in-flight entertainment and communication systems.

The in-flight fun will feature eXConnect broadband service and eXPhone GSM phone service but here’s where it gets really exciting: as part of the service, you’ll get the Cathay Pacific-branded free-of-charge entertainment portal, which is accessible through all passenger devices (read: iPads, PDAs, etc.) and seatback screens. Readers: take a moment to digest that information — we realize it’s pretty big news.

Here’s more straight from Cathay Pacific:

eXPhone, offered in collaboration with AeroMobile’s GSM mobile phone technology, allows passengers to use their mobile phones, smart phones and BlackBerry devices onboard to make voice calls, send SMS text messages or utilise data services and stream content wirelessly to their iPod, iPhone and iPad. eXPhone gives the airline flexibility and full control over the services offered including restricting certain services when appropriate.

According to Cathay, the in-flight entertainment options will include a range of content updated during the flight, access to airline and partner sites, e-commerce, airline-specific advertising, and live television with pay-per-view capability for special events.

Couple this with Cathay Pacific’s business class cabin and I might just move into the plane.