Long-haul carriers are catching on to the idea of providing passengers with live television - an idea pioneered by US low-cost carrier JetBlue Airways. And now Japan Airlines (JAL) and Lufthansa are closing in on Singapore Airlines (SIA) in the race to extend their in-flight entertainment offering. All three carriers were early customers of Connexion by Boeing's high-speed internet service but SIA was the first to offer, from July last year, live in-flight global television via travellers' laptops. JAL and Lufthansa have now followed suit.
It seems that nowhere now are you immune to 24-hour newsfeed. Depending on which region the aircraft is flying over, passengers can receive BBC World, CNBC, euro news or MSNBC programming. All content is in English, and passengers must listen through headphones, which will reassure travellers dreading being forced to follow the progress of sports games or interminable news bulletins playing on a neighbour's computer.
Since July the service has been available on SIA services between
Lufthansa claims to have the largest internet-equipped fleet - with 50 long-haul aircraft already equipped. It says that by the end of 2007 its entire long-range fleet of more than 80 aircraft will be internet-enabled.
JAL's in-flight internet service is currently available in all classes on certain aircraft serving five intercontinental routes and says it continues to expand this on to other routes, notably on Japan-Europe and Japan-North America services.