Foreign Favorites for High-Tech Flyers
International carriers--particularly on long-haul routes such as New York to London--are offering business travelers and tech fans even more exciting amenities.
1. Singapore Airlines: A PC at your seat
Singapore Airlines' geek-friendly factor is hard to beat. Consider this: Even in coach, the seat-back screens also serve as Linux-based PCs, featuring Sun Microsystems's StarOffice office productivity software. Each seat-back system includes a USB port, so you can connect your thumb drive or portable hard drive and upload your documents. You can also use the port to connect a USB keyboard or mouse. Forget to bring a keyboard? The airline will sell you one.
Singapore's screens are among the largest and highest resolution of any airline entertainment system. Coach passengers have a 10.6-inch LCD, while business-class travelers get a 15.4-inch screen. For first-class passengers, the sky's the limit: a 23-inch screen.
The airline's KrisWorld entertainment system will keep you busy, too, with 100 movies, 150 television shows, 700 music CDs, 22 radio stations, and 65 games. You can also access Berlitz foreign language lessons, Rough Guides travel content, and news updates.
Singapore Airlines offers 110-volt, in-seat power in all classes on its Airbus 340-500 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Aviation buffs take note: Singapore Airlines was the first to fly the gargantuan Airbus A380 aircraft. The airline says it's currently considering options for providing in-flight Internet access.
2. Emirates Airlines: Text messaging and e-mail at $1 a pop
Passengers on Emirates Airlines can send and receive SMS and e-mail using seatback touch screens for $1 per message. You can use your Wi-Fi-enabled laptop on Emirates' Airbus A340-500 aircraft to get e-mail. Real-time views of the sky and ground captured by on-board cameras are part of the in-flight entertainment system.
3. Air Canada: Your cell phone is your boarding pass
Air Canada offers many mobile browser tools, such as flight check-in and the ability to view the airline's full timetable. It's also one of the few airlines to let you use your cell phone as a boarding pass. Many of its seat-back screens offer free movies, TV programs, and music on demand--even in coach--plus USB and power ports.
4. Lufthansa: An in-flight Internet pioneer
Lufthansa was the first airline to offer Boeing's now-defunct Connexion by Boeing in-flight Wi-Fi service. The airline says it's currently testing another on-board Wi-Fi service. In the meantime, travelers can use their cell phones to check in for Lufthansa flights, check frequent flyer mileage balances, get information about transportation options to and from airports, and book future travel. First-class and business-class passengers have power ports to keep their laptops humming.