E-mail service offered by Cathay Pacific connects easily and runs well on Macs As I wing my way towards London, I am logging on to an e-mail system that Cathay Pacific Airways, PCCW and a Seattle-based company called Tenzing have put together for selected passengers. First- and business-class passengers have access, but so too do a select few economy-class passengers sitting close enough to the front cabins. I was under the impression the service would only be for Intel/Windows (Wintel) users so was surprised when I looked at the Netvigator Inflight guide and saw a reference to the Mac. And what a reference it was! But before we go there, let us deal with the Wintel crowd. Wintel users must get a disc from the flight attendant and install the software on their machines. This means you will need to have a CD-Rom to install the software. The installation process is simple but most people might regard it a hassle. It is necessary to connect the machine to the port in the seat and Cathay has the cables, which it lends to passengers. If you do not own one of the EmPower cables to connect to the inflight mains, Cathay will lend you a connection kit with lots of options to fit almost any model of Wintel box. There is nothing for the Mac. The computer reboots and, after some waiting, says it has discovered a USB modem. You must start an application called Netvigator Inflight, which will guide you through the process of connecting. Once the browser launches, you have a number of options. If you are a Netvigator customer, things go rather smoothly. If you are not, it can get a little difficult. You have the option to join Netvigator, but if you want to access an existing account, Hotmail or Attglobal, for example, you need to know the name of the incoming mail server. This is fine for those who do this for a living, but if you are not aware of how things work, it could be a real pain. If you hit a hitch here, it is doubtful the flight attendants at Cathay would be much help. You must choose between two schemes of paying for the service. One has you paying US$9.95 for access plus 60 cents for each kilobyte of mail. The other is a flat rate of $19.95 for unlimited mail less than 2Kb in size. More than that and you agree to pay the same 60 cents a kilobyte. Every 20 minutes, the aircraft connects to a server on the ground and sends all outgoing mail and gets all mail from the servers that customers have told it to get. For Mac users, the process of connecting to the service is even simpler. Turn to page six of the guide, which has very simple instructions about connecting the cable, selecting the connection (it only works with Mac OSX) and launching your browser. I was connected in a flash. There was no need for me to install any software. In a world where some governments and organisations design not only for a specific operating system but for a specific version of a browser, the highlight of the Tenzing service was how smoothly it worked with my Mac.