PHOTO: BA launches first-ever in-flight mobile portal

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British Airways has become the launch customer for OnAir's new in-flight mobile portal.

Passengers on board BA's all-business Airbus A318 service between London City and New York JFK will be able to access real-time travel-related services and information via the portal, which has been dubbed 'Club Mobile'.

BA offers OnAir's in-flight mobile connectivity service on the London City-JFK route, allowing passengers to use their own mobile phones or smartphones (such as Blackberry devices) for text messages, emails and Internet access.

But OnAir says the mobile portal is the first of its kind. "The first inflight mobile portal marks a new era in what passengers can expect from staying connected as they fly - information and services highly tailored to their journey and destination," says OnAir, a joint venture between Airbus and SITA.

"Using Club Mobile and in addition to viewing their flight information, passengers can consult the weather forecast for their destination, check traffic congestion, book a chauffeur, access concierge services, view guides to local events or check sport results from soccer and tennis championships this summer."

Use of the web-based services "is intuitive and very simple - passengers simply switch on their phones and will receive a text message with a direct link to access the portal", says OnAir.

Adds OnAir's new CEO Ian Dawkins: "Staying up-to-date on information via the portal will ensure passengers make best use of their time during their flight."

OnAir and SITA Lab, which focuses on strategic technology research, are behind the development of the in-flight mobile portal.

OnAir and Reed Exhibitions in May teamed up to develop and launch a mobile portal supporting the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. Aircraft Interiors Expo attendees had the opportunity to keep up-to-date and informed on news and show information via the portal.

For more information about in-flight entertainment and connectivity, go to Flightglobal's Runway Girl blog.