In-flight e-mail makes US debut on JetBlue with Yahoo

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 7, 2007 (AFP) – JetBlue will begin offering passengers free e-mail access on one of its airplanes next week as Internet connections that have become ubiquitous on the ground begin taking to the skies. Industry analysts expect 2008 to be the year in-flight Internet begins to take-off.

An Airbus-320 passenger jet called “BetaBlue” is equipped with wireless Internet antennae in the ceiling and a computer server that relays signals to mobile telephone towers on the ground.

BetaBlue will make its commercial flight debut Tuesday on a route from New York City to San Francisco.

Passengers will be able to connect to Yahoo Mail and instant messaging services via wireless Internet connections on laptops or with “Wi-Fi” enabled BlackBerry handheld devices, according to the US-based airline.

JetBlue subsidiary LiveTV customized the system and partnered with Yahoo because the US Internet titan’s Web-based message service is the most widely used in the nation, according to airline spokeswoman Alison Eshelman.

Yahoo executives and news reporters were among the passengers taken for a demonstration flight on the jet this week.

“It was just like you were sitting at your computer at home,” s