German airline Lufthansa has announced it is to offer high-speed internet during short and medium-haul flights from 2016 onwards.
From early summer 2016, Lufthansa will be the first network airline in Europe to make such an offering, allowing passengers on continental flights and flights within Germany to go online with “wide bandwidth above the clouds.”
According to Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG:
Lufthansa has always been a pioneer of internet services on board its aircraft. Having equipped all planes in the Lufthansa intercontinental fleet with our successful FlyNet system, we are now continuing our success story by providing Internet on board our short and medium-haul flights. We are therefore the first airline in Europe able to offer its guests an Internet surfing experience boasting the same quality and speed as they are used to at home.
In early 2003, Lufthansa operated the world’s first scheduled flight with broadband internet access. Although it was increasing in popularity among passengers, this technically reliable broadband internet connection via a wireless network had to be suspended in 2006 because the necessary satellites were no longer in operation. As of December 2010, Lufthansa was been the first airline to provide broadband access on long-haul flights. FlyNet has been available on all 106 long-haul aircraft in the fleet since the beginning of this year.
The new service from Lufthansa and technology partner Inmarsat is based on the broadband satellite technology from Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network (Ka-band) and is promised to offer “seamless, reliable coverage on short and medium-haul flights.” Passengers using the service can make the most of the internet access on their own mobile devices via a wireless network. Which means will also be able to use their mobile phones to send and receive text messages and for the transfer of data based on their own mobile phone contract. Actual phone calls, however, will still not be allowed which according to the airline is due to customer preference.
What’s your preference? Does having to “switch off” while in the air represent a golden opportunity for you to enjoy some much-needed downtime? Or is it an inconvenience obstructing you from getting your work done and keeping you out of reach from people you need to contact? Personally, I like the forced offline time to chill, but the few flights I’ve taken when I have had access to the internet have had my eyes glued to whatever screen I had with me, answering emails and browsing for online distractions. Ambivalent , yes, but I’m sure when flying Lufthansa (or any other online airline) I’ll be certain to take advantage of internet access. You?