Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I just returned from Berlin on LH710. LH710 is one of the long-haul Asian flights that is supposed to have the new Boeing wifi connection. I took an early flight to Frankfurt so I would have time to use broadband in the lounge. I arrived in the lounge with several hours before my flight and I found a lounge full of very frustrated businesspeople unable to log into the wifi network. The landing page wasn't even showing up. The customers were irate, but the staff in the lounge just sort of shrugged. (I'm not blaming them...) I was able to find the Vodaphone hotline. It was "conveniently" a German toll-free number which didn't work from my mobile phone. I borrowed the phone at the reception and called. After about 10 minutes of waiting and 15 minutes of convincing the first tier support guy that it wasn't a problem with my computer, (He kept saying that English language Macintoshes had problems sometimes) I was connected to the next tier guy. He was much friendlier and he explained that Frankfurt sucked for them because they had to go through the airport network once and it often caused problems. He said he'd try to figure out the problem and call me back. Two hours later, there was no call and I was beginning to get withdrawal symptoms. However, I knew I would have broadband on the plane so I was able to bear it. I read a newspaper.

The plane was practically empty since it was new years eve. I anxiously waited for the plane to it cruising altitude. As soon as the fasten seatbelt sign went off, I had my computer plugged in and started searching for the connection. I couldn't find it. I asked a flight attendant about it. She said that the plane wasn't equipped. HUH? There was a USB port and an ethernet and instructions on connecting in the seat pocket. In the past I've connected from LH710. I was in shock. What was I going to do for the next 10 hours? I did email, watched a movie and slept.

As we were landing, the flight attendant came and asked me if I enjoyed the flight and if I had any feedback on their service. I just stared at her. It reminded me of the one-line joke: "Other than that Ms. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?" Looking at the happy face of the flight attendant, I realized that non-addicts probably couldn't imagine my frustration. I also reflected on how one year ago wifi on a plane was still a dream for me. I thought about how much progress had been made in the last year. I also reflected on how addiction and obsession will never be satiated.


I hope you were generous to the flight attendant in praising the aspects of the flight that she could control. Happy New Year!

I flew via Frankfurt a few weeks ago - same sh...t: no Internet for 5 hours, while I was waiting a connecting flight from Tunisia (WSIS).
Big frustration, I agree. What would one do at the airport, but browse?

Happy New Year to you, and enjoy Japan, while you are there:)

you know, that kind of sounds like fun. NO INTERNET? for a whole eight hours?

i do tend to swear a bit when i'm clearing up all the work that's piled up when i was on the plane, but still its worth it, sometimes, to just lean back, relax and read a good book or something.

Aren't we all spoiled? When I was in Holland in December, I found myself offline for two days. I never thought I'd ever experience that. But you know what, I never touched a computer until I was 19. How'd I even spend those days?!

While I wasn't crossing the globe (this time) I can relate to your pain, as I am a WiFi addict too. How bad? After a day offline, Christmas night found me not at home with family, but wardriving my old hometown in search of an open connection. For two hours. At 1:30am. Made me feel like a junkie, cruising side streets and alleys for my fix.


Total sympathies. Here in "high tech Ireland" there is nobody in the vicinity of my family's house in Kilkenny with broadband. (We are five miles from the largest inland city in Ireland and totally off the grid.)

Can't wait until wifi is everywhere!


That is pretty sad. For someone who sleeps to little and travels so much I would have thought you would have been pleased to sleep and watch a movie. I think you need to go cold turkey... no, no how would you play WOW? Oh well, Happy New Year, I hope to see you more this year. Akemashite Omedeto!

Hi Joi.

Just drop by at my office next Time in frankfurt. Some steps from the central station and some minutes by train from the airport.

Happy New Year!


Interesting. Not to get too cute but imagine the 'always connected, all the time, physical digial implant thing' - would we have less and less reasons to 'come out' of the net, what would they be? Maybe to sleep/dream ?

Had tried wifi in the China Airline TPE to SFO, TPE to Vancouver and TPE to Tokyo. It's different experience. From TPE to Tokyo it is a 3 1/2 hour flight and the drink, the meal, the duty free sales, cute airline attendant, they make u feel busy and no time for wifi. But TPE to SFO is a 12-hour flight. The connection fee is much worthy, if the service is available.

I also found that the satellite phones in the planes are broken. My colleague lost her purse and we tried to call the hotel while we're already on the plane going back home. None of the satellite phones were working. Fortunate there's wifi in the plane, I used skype to contact the hotel and found the purse for my colleague. She is a old-fashioned government official and thought that I am a hero to her!

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Joi Ito blogs about how disappointed he was to find that a flight which was meant to have wifi Internet on board turned out not to. When asked if he still enjoyed the flight he compares it to the joke... Read More