Those days are rapidly disappearing, however.
Aircell, a company that provides internet service on flights by Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Virgin America, says that 190 planes currently have internet access, and the company expects that number to rise to 1,200 by the end of the year.
The service is typically available in a tiered-rate system. Aircell, for example, charges $9.95 for flights less than three hours, $12.95 for flights longer than three hours, and $7.95 for a WiFi-enabled handheld device.
No word in the article about connection speeds or download limits, but an airline industry expert predicts that the airlines will offer reduced rate options in the future that come with some limitations.
Several of the airlines have requested content filters to prevent passengers from viewing objectionable content. Others, like Alaska Airlines, rely on their current guidelines for objectionable material.
Is this airplane-internet expansion a good thing? It will certainly allow people to be more productive, but it may also heighten expectations that people will always be available.
Even on business trips, it's sometimes nice to not have an internet connection so that you can actually get some work done.