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Internet to Invade the Airways (Wi-Fi on Airplanes)

I’ve been reading a handful of articles, including “Internet to Invade the Airways “, about how Internet access is coming to American Airlines and JetBlue. I don’t fly American that often, so it’s not a big deal to me. For someone who spends a ridiculous number of hours in front of a computer, the prospect of having in-flight wi-fi is thoroughly unappealing. A few thoughts:

I’d rather have a power connection over Wi-Fi – I actually enjoy being disconnected on airplanes. It’s about the only place or space in my work world where I have no choice but to disconnect. I find plane flights to be a good place to sleep, think about problems / opportunities that require hours of relatively uninterrupted thought, or simply write. I also don’t know how useful it would be to have Wi-Fi on an airplane if I don’t have a power outlet. Having continuous power in coach seats would do a lot more for me than having Wi-Fi would.

Coffee? Tea? Tech Support? Most flights I’ve taken lately have been pretty full. And the in-flight staff has had their hands full with keeping passengers as comfortable and happy as possible. Who will bear the burden for flaky Wi-Fi on planes? Will the in-flight staff be expected to debug my Wi-Fi problems? Who do you think will take the flack if the connection doesn’t work? Don’t laugh – if people pay for (or come to expect) in-flight wi-fi and it doesn’t work, they will want to take that frustration out on someone.

Coach seats are not exactly laptop friendly. Working on planes in coach is no fun – you barely have enough room to stay seated and such. Most business travelers have experienced that moment of horror when the seatback in front of you reclines as you scramble to move your laptop out of harm’s way. I’m not sure that it’s a good idea to have people working for hours at a time in such cramped quarters.

Will they block VoIP? Please block VoIP. I talk on my phone a lot and I can’t think of anything that would lead to more air rage (or more sales of Bose QuietComfort headsets) than enabling any form of cheap or free phone communications on airplanes.

What do you think? Curious to hear what folks have to say on this one.

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