African football fans score as in-flight entertainment reaches new heights

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Football fever reached new heights last night when African football fans flying at 35 000 feet and 600 mph were able to watch Ghana play a vital group match as it happened. The specially equipped British Airways’ jumbo jet from Heathrow to Accra was carrying some innovative technology, which meant fans didn’t have to wait seven hours to find out who won the encounter with Portugal. The upper Club World deck of the aircraft was transformed into the world’s highest fan zone as customers streamed the game live on their personal Wi-Fi-enabled devices, while sipping champagne and enjoying gourmet burgers from the airline’s First Class menu. To add to the occasion former Ghana captain, Joe Addo, and defensive midfielder, John Paintsil, were on board to provide expert insights on the game. “We have this aircraft nicknamed the ‘Jumbo Net’ on which we’re testing the technology. By happy coincidence it happened to be flying to Accra the night of the game. We decided that this was a fantastic opportunity to surprise and delight some of our African customers,” explains Frank van der Post, British Airways managing director of brands and customer experience. The Panasonic system is able to stream live TV via satellites, allowing customers to connect to four free channels, including Sport24, CNN, Euronews and BBC World News. “I’ve watched football matches in just about every conceivable place, but never thought that I’d be watching the Black Stars play Portugal at 30 000 feet over Africa,” said Joe Addo. John Paintsil said: “Live football five miles up in the sky – that’s the height of in-flight entertainment.” Although the specially equipped Boeing 747 is the airline’s only aircraft currently offering live streaming sport, travellers on other flights will not miss out. British Airways is showing special highlight shows of the football from Brazil, Wimbledon tennis championships and Formula 1 motor-racing on its long-haul flights. Its in-flight entertainment systems also provide a choice of more than 130 movies, 650 television shows, some 550 audio albums and 225 radio shows.