It used to be the case that an airplane flight offered people some time to disconnect from phone calls, emails and all the other forms of communication that dominate modern life.
Those days are rapidly disappearing, however. An article
on CNN.com describes how WiFi on airplanes is literally getting off the
ground as several airlines have begun to offer an in-flight internet
connection on certain aircraft.
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
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.