British Airways has taken another giant step in revolutionising travel as we know it, now offering on-board e-mail and internet access for its passengers, provided by Connexion by Boeing.
, previously recognised for its pioneering approach, was the first to introduce flat beds in First and Club World. BA has now announced that for a 3 month trial period it will be installing Connexion by Boeing in its First, Club World and World Traveller Plus cabins.
Connexion by Boeing
has been in development since February of 2000, and provides the broadband technology which allows air travellers to use their own lap top computers at 35,000 ft and surf the internet, send e-mails with attachments and access their own corporate intranets.
Martin George, British Airways` Director of Marketing said: “We have chosen to trial the Connexion by Boeing service on board because we believe it offers real benefits for travellers”. He added, “Connexion by Boeing allows passengers to not only surf the internet while on board but also allows business travellers to access their corporate and personal e-mail accounts, send real-time e-mails and access their corporate networks”.
Stan Deal, Executive Director of Commercial Sales for Connexion by Boeing tells ITN, “Boeing is unique in the marketplace because it is the only service that provides broadband to and from the aircraft, into the seat for the passenger”.
Boeing`s satellite services for aeroplanes were recently approved
by the Federal Communications Commission, clearing the way for this dynamic offering.
The move by BA has come at a good time for Boeing, after United, AA and Delta were forced to withdraw
their financial support for the Connexion Inflight Internet project last year. The three US giants had equity arrangements with Connexion, but after September 11th, their ability to continue funding became severely hampered. Stan comments. “We mutually agreed to wait until they reach financial recovery”.
Post 9/11 attacks, it may have appeared as though Connexion`s plans were to be thwarted, but now, the future is looking bright. BA have joined Lufthansa, awaiting for trials of this service; Lufthansa
became the international launch customers for the Connexion By Boeing high-speed Internet service last year
, signing a Memorandum of Understanding.
With the rapidly growing number of travellers going online to plan trips and seek travel information, demand for email and Internet access during airline flights is to be expected.
Without internet connection, productivity is limited and entertainment choices are selected for you.
BA`s research has found that 75% of business travellers take laptops on board with them and most of those who carried laptops were extremely interested in having internet access during a flight.
Stan comments, “Connexion have also surveyed the passengers flying one airline with connectivity versus an airline without and interestingly, passengers indicated that within the available time of flight choice, they would switch flights based on an airline being equipped with connectivity rather than without”.
Following extensive passenger surveys, Connexion have found that connectivity brings multiple enhancements and added value to the passengers` journey. Stan comments: “Connexion by Boeing will provide BA`s passengers with the ability to connect people to the outside world, enabling passengers to be more productive. Business travellers will be able to obtain their office information, with the speed and quality characteristic of a modern office environment, with seamless, real-time communications. With regard to entertainment - whereas usually, the choice is selected for you - with internet live two- ways, the passenger is presented with countless options”. Stan added. “These are powerful components because today if you walk into a cabin of an aircraft, you have really limited ability to connect with the outside world”.
This sky is the limit with Connexion by Boeing, who are constantly finding more uses for the high quality, user-friendly technology. Boeing recently had a breakthrough
when Alaska Airlines
became the first airline to print out a boarding pass online at 30,000 feet. Following discussions with BA, it was agreed that further benefits for passengers includes access to data for critical decision-making, such as medical information or critical weather updates.
With such advanced technology, it is essential that the system works first time. Stan comments: “One of the key requirements for the airlines is that you have to put the service on in a way that it works first time and every time”. He adds, “To ensure that there will be no disappointments, for the last 15 months, Boeing have been working with 15 airlines around the world, defining the final requirements for service for passengers”.
Using a Boeing 737 400, the Boeing team have completed extensive testing and data analysis of critical on-board hardware, software, systems and procedures that will be available to airline passengers. Stan informs me, “This serves to both develop and refine the system, so that as it is installed on BA aeroplanes and presented to BA passengers, it works first time, every time”.
BA will undergo a trial for 3 months, beginning in February 2003 and based on the outcome, they are looking to embody their entire fleet.