|by Jason Steele|
There used to be a time when I configured computers for traveling users when I would refer to the disconnect state as “being on an airplane”, since traveling was synonymous with a complete lack of internet connectivity. As you have probably heard, this is no longer the case, as airlines are tripping over themselves to offer Wi-Fi, wireless internet connectivity onboard aircraft.
Not Repeating The Same Mistakes
In the 90s, there was a similar scramble to provide telephone connectivity while onboard an aircraft. We all remember those seat back telephones right? The reason they have largely disappeared is because nobody used them. Airlines paid a huge expense to install them across their fleets, and then seemed to think that people would spend several dollars a minute to make phone calls in the air. It turned out that most people preferred to wait until they landed rather than spend a small fortune to make airborne phone calls. The airlines screwed up royally on the pricing, something that their customers see all the time.
This time, they are taking a more conservative approach. Unlike the telephone fiasco, airlines are getting the partnership of the providers when it comes to the install, and then sharing the revenue for use. Prices are not outrageous, like the several dollars a minute phone calls, but it is still possible to spend more on a few hours of airborne internet than you spend on your monthly internet at home.
It is for that reason that it is unlikely that I will ever pay for in flight Internet. Then again, I am not really the target market. If I were a business traveler, and my company was willing to re-reimburse me for the expense, it might just be worth the hassle of printing a receipt and submitting it to the travel department. If I am truly getting work done, it might be worth it to them to pay for my connectivity. Realistically, I would still prefer to enjoy the flight and read a book, considering I spend eight hours a day working on a computer anyways.
Try In-Flight Internet For Free This Year
Another way the airlines are trying to avoid having this technology fail like seat back telephones is by giving it away for free. There have been all sorts of promos since this technology was deployed. The clear intention is to get people to try it out, and hopefully they will start paying once the bill comes due.
This year, there are a slew of promotions centered around the holidays. The sponsor is Google Chrome, and there are several airlines participating.
For information on using this service with Airtran, check this out:
Delta is currently the largest airline particpating in in this promotion:
Finally, you can also connect with the hip new upstart Virgin America:
So bring your laptop, sign in to the Internet, and feel free to tune out your seatmate, crying baby, and the beautiful scenery outside your window.