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In-flight internet takes off

Lufthansa transatlantic passengers first to surf in mid-air

Passengers travelling in Lufthansa's flight LH 418 from Frankfurt to Washington Dulles today will become the first commercial air travellers to experience in-flight broadband internet access.

All those onboard the Boeing 747-400 aircraft will be able to connect to the web via Lufthansa's FlyNet service, either using their own notebook computers or one of those on loan from the airline.

Lufthansa will trial the service, which is based on Boeing's Connexion technology, for three months, offering passengers free access on its daily flights to and from Washington DC — flight numbers LH 418 (westbound) and LH 419 (eastbound). If successful the airline plans to equip around 80 longhaul Boeing 747-400 and Airbus A330/340 jets with the service starting in mid-2004.

This groundbreaking flight was made possible after Boeing won the support of European regulatory bodies, allowing it to use vital radio frequencies to carry data to and from the planes flying in European airspace.

Although this is the first service of its kind to be launched, British Airways will begin a trial service in mid-February, while Scandinavian airline SAS, and Japan's national airline, JAL, are also planning to offer internet access on their Boeing aircraft.


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