Surfing the Wireless Wonder at 40,000 Feet

10 minutes after the aircraft has released its grip of the Bangkok runway, the seatbelt signs turn off. Bound for Singapore, this means that the passengers on board SAS Flight SK973 now have a little less than two hours to make use of one of the latest technological wonders within the airline industry; the in-flight wireless internet connection, also known as “Connexion by Boeing”.
     Reaching 40,000 feet, I open my internet browser and punch in the requested log-in and payment information. Nothing happens. Did I really spend my money on a wrong wireless adapter? One of the stewards tells me that I will have to wait a few minutes, since the plane still hasn’t picked up the wireless signal… On this late Wednesday afternoon, I seem to be the only one affected by that, though. No other laptops are visible in the cabin.
     Five minutes later I try again. This time with success. I open my email to find that a few new messages have arrived since I left the office. One of my sources in Singapore requests a last-minute change of time for the interview the following morning. As my reply is sent off, I catch up on the latest headlines in the region, I check how many Baht it takes to buy a Singapore dollar, plus browse the latest 5-day weather forecast for Singapore. But my appreciation of this high-flying online connection increases considerably as I am able to complete my final research on one the companies on my interview-list. Now I won’t have to finish that at the hotel tonight.

Lonely Surfer
This Wednesday afternoon’s flight from Bangkok to Singapore – SAS’ only Wednesday flight between the two cities – doesn’t exactly seem to be overbooked. Only 23 seats in my section of 42 have a passenger in them. This comes in handy, though, as the food is served. Thanks to the empty neighbor seat to my right, I can eat without having to close down my computer.
     SAS might hope to see the in-flight wireless internet connection become for the business travelers what the car radio was for automobile buyers at its introduction; a must-have feature. Thus, I’m a bit surprised when the helpful steward confirms to me that I am the only one using this service feature on this flight. Maybe it is due to the fact that this 261 seat carrier is only carrying 166 passengers this evening, or perhaps it is because everyone else deems this two hour flight better spent by relaxing than by working? Judged by the body language of my fellow travelers on business class, the last reason seems to be the most fitting, as the sun is preparing to dive through the blanket of clouds outside our windows.
     Obviously, this service feature is even more useful on the longer flights. But before stepping on board on a long intercontinental SAS-flight, it would be advisable to note that unless you are flying business class or economy plus, then you cannot get the full 12-hour benefit of “Connexion by Boeing” – since a normal laptop battery only lasts 2-3 hours. Although SAS is the first airline to install seats with electrical sockets with less than 110 volt, meaning that you won’t need to use an adapter, this service is still only available on business class and economy plus. However, according to SAS, laptop battery pricing will be available starting June 2005.

Popular among its Users
Although the “Connexion by Boeing” doesn’t seem to be making a connection with the people on board this flight, the service is apparently highly pleasing to those who do use it. Recent studies done for SAS by Burke Research show that 93 % of the 625 users questioned were either “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with the service overall. Two thirds of them indicated that they would “definitely use the service again”. I suppose, I can only join them in that conclusion. Because I took the 10 minutes to sign up for an account at “Connexion by Boeing” the day before my flight, and because I had already purchased and installed the necessary hardware and software before stepping on the plane, I was able to get straight to work.
     Once you get over the thrill and the amazement of being able to sit high above the clouds, traveling at a speed of 900 kilometers per hour, with the entire worldwide web at your disposal, then it’s pretty much just like… well, normal internet usage.
     As the seatbelt sign lights up again, it is with the prospect of a work-free evening at the hotel and with a folder of fully prepared interviews that I put my laptop away and prepare for landing.

Irregularities Frequently Occur
This article was supposed to be uploaded and published unto ScandAsia’s website from seat 4B on SAS Flight SK972 on the return flight from Singapore to Bangkok the following Sunday evening – while hanging 39,000 feet over Malaysian airspace. However, due to a malfunction of “Connection by Boeing” all the way from Singapore to Bangkok, this was not possible. The SAS cabin crew explains that this happens frequently on the route between these two cities, plus when flying over parts of China. Thus, it is not recommended that you count on the service to work on routes affected by these irregularities and bad reception. SAS informs that improvements are being made on an on-going basis, since this service feature is still so new and unexplored. Since SAS still remains the only airline in the world to have its entire intercontinental fleet hooked up to the wireless satellite connection, they are also the first airline to face the challenge of perfecting that feature.

The prices for using the service are based on the length of your flight (varying from USD 14.95 to USD 29.95). For more information about SAS’ wireless in-flight internet connection and about how to best prepare for use of it, please go to

To sign up and to create an account at Connexion by Boeing, go to

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