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Airlines offer chance to surf the net at 40,000ft
By Robert Uhlig, Technology Correspondent
(Filed: 24/02/2004)


The days when the stresses of air travel were compensated for by a gin and tonic, a film and a snooze are nearing their end. Next month, two airlines will launch in-flight internet access, bringing email to 40,000ft.

In-flight internet connection is set to take off on many airlines [picture removed]

The hermetically sealed tube in the sky, for decades the business executive's last refuge from office and home, has succumbed to broadband satellite links and wireless networking.

From next month, passengers on Lufthansa and Emirates airlines with laptops will be able to have all the facilities of their office in the cramped confines of their airline seats. British Airways is expected to follow suit later this year.

Stanley Deal, a Boeing executive, said that when the system was first tested on a limited number of British Airways and Lufthansa transatlantic flights it was so popular with business class customers that the cabin staff had nothing to do for most of the flight.

"We expect around a fifth of passengers to use the service when they have got used to the idea of logging on to the internet in the air," he said.

The satellite link will also enable aircraft to show up to 12 channels of live television.
 
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