Connexion by Boeing adds active airlines, talks about future: In an interview Tuesday, Connexion's vice president of commercial airline business Stan Deal said that All-Nippon Airlines (ANA), Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), and Japan Airlines will all have active service in at least one plane or route by Dec. 14. ANA is flying Tokyo to Shanghai round-trips with Connexion active now. On Dec. 9, Japan Airlines adds Internet service to their Tokyo to London round-trip. And Dec. 14, SAS starts up the first of many planes they will unwire with Connexion with an assortment of Copenhagen-based flights--first up, Copenhagen to Seattle. (SAS has committed on their site to a full rollout of their 11-plane long-haul fleet by April 2005.)
Meanwhile, Lufthansa has been quickly adding planes to the Connexion-equipped fleet. They fly with Connexion enabled both ways on several routes: Munich to Los Angeles, Tokyo, Tehran, and Charlotte, and Frankfurt to Denver. On Dec. 14, they add Munich to San Francisco and Miami. The latest routes were released in a press announcement on Wednesday.
Connexion also has signed up China Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, and Asiana Airlines. Two other airlines have been signed with announcements expected.
Deal said that Boeing now had relationships with 160 corporations around the world representing over 300,000 employees that have a direct connection with the service: "When they get on a Connexion-equipped airplane, the corporation will reimburse them," Deal said.
Connexion has also pursued Wi-Fi operator agreements to allow the same account credentials on the ground to authenticate and bill through to these wireless operators. They now work with iPass Inc, InfoNet, NTT DoCoMo, T-Systems, StarHub, NTT Communications, and Singtel, and Deal said two other "big-brand wireless providers" are signed with an announcement forthcoming.
Deal said that the reduction in time to install Connexion on planes--a reduction discussed on a recent demonstration flight in November from as much as 20 down to within seven days--wasn't part of the sudden availability in active routes. Instead, it was the time required to put the deals together. Deal said there was an "early adopter issue: who's going to break into the market first in the industry. That barrier I think you can say is down now."
Connexion plans to introduce live television with Singapore Airlines and then other carriers streamed over the satellite Internet feed. It also expects to add prepaid cards for Connexion use to complement the onboard credit card, corporate, and operator credentials options. And frequent flyer milers on some airlines will be convertible at a "fairly reasonable" exchange rate into Connexion sessions, Deal said.
Deal noted that he's found having continuous Internet access during a flight changes a passenger's perception of the experience. Even as you fly, "you can partake in what's happening in the world," he said. Many early users employ Connexion for entertainment, not just work.