This is the Tiny Onboard Satellite Dish That Delivers In-Flight WiFi to Your Airplane
For scale, that's a magazine down there in the lower left corner
By now we're going to go ahead and assume that you've lost your in-flight WiFi virginity, but have you done it over an ocean yet?
Long-haul WiFi is a real thing, and some airlines already have it installed and ready to run via satellites, provided you're willing to pay for the service. For example, Lufthansa, via its partnership with Panasonic, offers "FlyNet," which runs 20 Euros for 24 hours (with other pricing plans available). You can fly from the US to Germany and send a braggy Facebook status update from above Iceland. You know you want to.
A connection to the world wide web from 38,000' doesn't just happen by magic, of course; there's technology up the wazoo working to let you tweet "I'm on a plane." That technology is mostly contained within a special bump on the top of the plane's bodylook for it on aircraft and you'll begin to see it everywhere. That bump is the home of a tiny satellite dishthe one pictured above. You have it to thank for long-haul in-flight internet and live satellite TV, where available of course.
Lufthansa was showing off this baby last week, during the launch of their first Boeing 747-8i at Frankfurt International. It's a genius gadget, but though it's already up and running to bring WiFi to over 65 Lufthansa long-haul aircraft, the new jumbo jet has to wait a little bit longer, as do the A380s.
There is hope on the horizon! Carsten Spohr, member of the executive board of Lufthansa, does promise that "90% [of the long-haul fleet] will have FlyNet by the end of the year." SCORE.
In the meantime, look forward to watching live sports coverage via the channel Sports 24. It's free and already in the seatback TVs of several A330s, and it'll have all the synchronized swimming and track & field deliciousness of the London Olympics this summer...as it happens, as it hits this little satellite dish on the roof of your jet.