Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

This widget suddenly become a bit more interesting...
Lufthansa just upgraded the plane they use for LH711, the flight from Tokyo to Frankfurt. This is the flight that I use for nearly all of my European travel. The new seats are nice, but more importantly, they now have they have Internet on the flight as well as a multi-standard AC plug. Many of my friends have already been on flights with wifi, but this is my first time. I'm also excited because LH711 is probably one of flights I take the most. It's $29.95 for the whole 12 hour flight. See you online!


A few observations. I'm online right now when normally I would probably be sleeping. I usually try to crunch through my email flagged for followup during the flight. It's a bit slower now since I'm not as focused, but I just realized that the mad rush to sync my email when I land will be gone. It is going to be odd getting off of the plane without, "where should I connect to the Internet" being the main thing on my mind...


I also just realized that my habit of staying up late the night before doing a lot of work and sleeping on the plane is now a out-dated practice. I should sleep at home and work on the plane...


I unfortunately didn't bring my headset or I would have tried Skype. Warcraft worked, but was showing a red alert for latency. I transfered a fairly large mp3 to someone over iChat without much trouble. (Sorry, didn't check the speed.) I'm trying BitTorrent now, but it doesn't seem to be finding peers... Pings to Google are taking about 770 ms and it takes 11 hops to get out of Boeing and 14 hops to get into Google. Bandwidth Speed Test says I've got 137.7 kilobits per second of bandwidth.


I lied. The first thing I did when I got off the plane was look for wifi...


I reviewed a picture I took of the jacks and it is 110V 60Hz power. It also seems to have a USB plug in addition to the ethernet plug. I wonder if you can mount the plane as an external device...


Bah. Some people have all the luck.

LH 758 MAA-FRA is what I usually take to Europe or the States, and that's still an aging 747-400. Still old style business class seats and no wifi.

"Should be done by 2006" is what they say. Hopefully.

Which widget Joi? Can you point me to it?


Nick, it's the standard flight tracker widget that comes with the Mac OS X Tiger Dashboard.

Does instant messaging work normally?

Yes. So far, everything including IM and IRC seem to work OK.

Can you see other machines on the plane? Is it a small LAN they have running. Wonder if you could file share with your seatmate.

So you actually got power out of the seat-side 110v outlet?

I flew to Kyoto on a NW 747 in February and was pretty disappointed - apparently the power system in the aircraft was not engineered with the notion that *everyone* would be using it (which is probably not a good assumption when you're only plumbing the seats in biz and first). It kept switching me off.

I suppose it doesn't help that BigGayAl, my 17" AlBook, is a hungry beast compared to a lot of laptops...

I think LH was the first airline of many who ditched the idea of using that weird airplane 12V DC standard and installed AC instead. I think it's probably 220, but not sure. I didn't check sense my power supply works for either.

I've used power on various airplane and I found that it's not necessarily about power consumption, but a flakey connector can make it switch off. Maybe it has something to do with sparks. Anyway, the plug on this plane worked just fine for me.


I take it these features only apply to business and first class?

I think only Business Class and First Class have power but Economy Class can access wifi.

Singapore Airlines have also 110 V with standards plugs.

Skype does not work well on board because of the delay and sometimes there is some packet loss.

and forgot - the results Lufthansa has after one year of offering this service, are not encouraging - only a few people have used it per flight.

I knew nothing about what you are all talking about, but now I have enough to fake my way through the conversation if I ever happen to be in one about this. Ah the joys of blogging! ;P

If you search Google for LH711 boeing, the first hit I get is for Connexion Boeing. They use an OEM'ed version of a Colubris WiFi router. (See the linked PDF on the home page... :p
Had we been able to access the admin screens we would have seen the admin UI that I designed during my 3 years at Colubris. ;)

Well, that sounds promising. It's just a tad bit on the pricey side at $29 though.

Personally, I'd be willing to pay $29 on an international flight if I was in coach (wifi + reliable AC power). But if I am paying for first, I expect great service. I don't really care about the in-flight entertainment (I very much do care about the seats though -- nothing like getting off a 12 hour flight and feeling like hell). How about giving first & business free WiFi and offering it to passengers in coach for a reasonable fee (as I said $29 for a 12 hour flight seems okay, as long as it's reliable and adequatedly fast).

I flew Tokyo-Munchen LH715 twice last year sacrificing better (flight) connections out of Frankfurt just to be able to use CBB (Connexion By Boeing). As you say, *this* changes everything. Connected to VPN, email, music ( same as being home. Your bitrate seems low, my speed check then showed 8262 Kbps (yes, around 8 Mbps!). But your delay is consistent with mine, see partial traceroute from Sea of Japan (close to Russia). Note the signal touched earth in Ibaraki (iba -5th hop) then goes to Japan's PoweredCom (pwd) backbone.

traceroute to (, 64 hops max, 40 byte packets
1 ( 2.113 ms 2.076 ms 2.070 ms
2 ( 1.985 ms 2.021 ms 2.172 ms
3 ( 2.464 ms 2.111 ms 2.162 ms
4 * * *
5 ( 580.170 ms 586.719 ms 581.
088 ms
6 ( 623.686 ms 585.520 ms
583.386 ms
7 ( 579.296 ms 663.638 ms
581.780 ms
8 ( 744.621 ms 593.069 ms
576.146 ms
9 ( 581.842 ms 589.099 ms 580.304 ms
10 ( 588.254 ms 576.940 ms 583.199 ms


Northwest has had 110v power for routes flying their A330s. I think it started last fall. There's a max of about 40 watts per plug and turbulence/kid kicking the seats will automatically move the AC power to standby (the green light on the plug turns red and power drops).

It's a shame that seat-wise, Lufthansa has probably the worst international economy class in the skies. If I remember right it's a 31" seat pitch.

And I wonder if bandwidth rage will become a problem. Say it takes 1 hr to sync your email so you go prowling around the cabin looking for someone with a p2p client running so you can whack them.

Some years ago the opportunity of surfing on a flight was SciFi.
Thanks to the grat spirit of Kapitalism for making us able to read e-mails 10 km above the surface. Now you can make people doing their work on the flight.

Colubris router? I'm sorry but I can only say argh :( Especially because of some weird transparent proxying of DNS that you guys do, that would quite often randomly return a record like or for some domains [like the place where I work] when I tried to run a local dnscache instance and use it ...

"Today, Lufthansa announced the first instance of their new A380 aircraft being landed directly under the control of an unknown person in the passenger cabin.

'Apparently a passenger cracked into the online control system using the new onboard network', a Lufthansa spokesperson said.

Passengers questioned by regulators reported that the landing was the smoothest that they had ever experienced, but that the series of barrel rolls prior to touchdown was a little unnerving."


In a related development:

"US to spy on plane internet use"


WOW! In 2005 it was a dream & a rare facility in flights, no one ever thought that one day its will be like nails with every one.

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