Internet and Skype onboard a Boeing 747

May 07, 2006

I’m writing this from somewhere above Iceland or Greenland. I’m onboard a Boeing 747 en route from Frankfurt to San Francisco. 10+ hours of pure flight fun being cranked up in the economy class. But there’s Internet at least…

This is a special flight for me. I always wanted to fly onboard a 747. And I wanted to go back to America, too. (I was in summer school ten years ago.) Now I’m doing both. Cool.

747 is more than a plane. It’s an icon of many things. To me, it’s an icon of 60s and 70s where the world was still simple and international travel and economy was booming. No fuel crisis yet, no terrorists or any other silly things. A 747 with the “Pan Am” logo on it is an icon you can see in many movies of that era. These days it’s not much different, except there’s Internet and the in-flight movies are newer.

Inside, the plane is a regular 3+4+3 wide-hull configuration. Haven’t had much to look around yet. Hoping to do so — still got some 7 hours of flight left. Already had one meal and they said another is upcoming too ;)

The Internet connection is really cool. $26,95 for the entire flight (or actually it means for 24 hours, since it works on connecting flights too), or in chunks of around $10 for an hour. I got the former – may want to put the laptop in sleep for some time. Interesting analysis of the network setup.

Tried Skype. Skype-to-Skype, SkypeOut and video calls were all perfect. As perfect as on the ground. Earlier, some people said that in-flight calls have massive delays, but I didn’t get them. It just takes a couple of first seconds during the call to stabilize the session and after that it’s great. Maybe 0.1-0.2s of delay, not more. It simply works, and works great. Interesting what they invent these days.

As others noted before, the main deficiency here is that there are no power plugs in economy, so I’ll run out of juice in a couple of hours.