Come Wi-Fi with me, says Lufthansa

Photo: Oliver Roesler / Lufthansa Bildarchiv, FRA CI/P

Lufthansa will become the first European airline to offer on-board Wi-Fi to short-haul and medium-haul passengers next year.

The German airline has announced that it will introduce the facility next year, allowing those on-board to surf the web in the air, as well as posting messages on social media and checking emails. Wi-Fi will be available on domestic routes, as well as on flights across the continent from summer 2016.

The move, which promises to provide “the same quality and speed as [users] are used to at home”, is the first step towards what is expected to become a standard in the aviation industry. Indeed, video streaming companies Netflix and Amazon have both previously spoken about plans to introduce video on-demand services to in-flight entertainment options.

Indeed, Norwegian is the only airline in Europe to offer Wi-Fi at present, although it is only available on short-haul flights. Some airlines also offer broadband on long-haul flights for business passengers.

Lufthansa did, in fact, operate the world’s first scheduled flight with broadband Internet access on 15th January 2003. Although it was increasing in popularity among passengers, this technically reliable broadband Internet connection via a wireless network had to be suspended in 2006 because the necessary satellites were no longer in operation.

Lufthansa has not announced a price yet for its new service, which will be powered by a deal with Deutsche Telekom and UK firm Inmarsat, but has confirmed that there will be some restrictions on the wireless web’s usage: customers will not be allowed to make calls through apps such as Skype, in an attempt to maintain peace on an aircraft, much like a quiet carriage on a train.

A spokesperson for British Airways told The Telegraph that the airline is already “in discussions” with Inmarsat about offering a similar service – the airline currently only offers Wi-Fi on flights between London and New York.