Air phones mostly bombed. Passengers were up in arms at recent talk of allowing in-flight cellphone use. But airborne Internet access? That would seem like a sure hit.

So far, only international travelers can log on while flying. El Al, Lufthansa, and Singapore Airlines offer Boeing's satellite-based Connexion service, including on flights leaving Chicago, Washington and New York.

But domestic fliers may be about to get mid-flight e-mail and Web surfing, too.

Last week the Federal Communications Commission announced a May auction of airwaves emanating from ground stations that would let airlines offer Internet access during flights. The Federal Aviation Administration would also have to give the go-ahead.

Boeing hoped to dominate that market with its satellite-based system, which the international flights currently use. But the airwaves to be auctioned by the FCC would open up the market to competition (Boeing itself might bid on them).

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