Is This The Future?

by Nancy Bestor

coffee-in-the-air-1450007-639x961On our way to Jordan, Turkish Airlines offered free wifi to all its passengers. This my first opportunity to use in-flight wifi, and I was excited by the prospect of whiling away the hours endlessly surfing the internet. I logged in easily and my surfing began. I quickly realized however, that while wifi at 30,000 feet may be advanced technology,  it is painfully slow advanced technology. It reminded me of the days of the dial up modem. Actually, it may have even been slower than the old dial up modem. Perhaps in flight wifi works fine when you want to send an email, but to actually browse the internet? Kind of frustrating, in my opinion.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Well, in truth I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I know what Louis C.K. is thinking.  I need to stop whining and be grateful there are airplanes, let alone airplanes with wifi! And indeed, I am grateful. But I have to wonder about passengers who pay for wifi when they fly. Passes with GoGo, one of the most popular in-flight wifi providers, range from $7 for a one hour pass, to $60 for a month long, multi-airline pass for domestic travel. Seems pricey to me just to do lots of slow browsing. JetBlue, however, recently announced that on any plane equipped with wifi, that wifi will be free for all passengers. Perhaps other airlines will follow suit? And pigs will fly. I predict I’ll be sticking to reading good old fashioned books for the foreseeable future.

Here’s an interesting article on how in-flight wifi works, along with a ranking of every major airline’s wifi service.

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Here We Are Now, Entertain Us

by Bob Bestor

gogoWe all complain about commercial airlines, and they probably deserve it. There is little argument that historically they have done one thing (and one thing only) very well—they get their passengers to their destinations quickly and safely. Everything else, whether it’s comfort, cuisine, or anything that might make the experience even the slightest bit more pleasurable, is sorely lacking.

But in a small but very nice step to reverse that trend, United, Alaska, American, Delta and more airlines now offer in-flight streaming of movies and TV shows to laptops, tablets and smartphones.

The beta version from United is free (so far). It kicked off last year and is available on about 200 of their aircraft. On two recent trips it was available on most of my flights and I found it easy to use, reliable and a big improvement for the in-flight experience.

United’s Personal Device Entertainment is actually part of a suite of services in the United app that includes flight status and access to your personal United information like reservations, boarding passes and your Mileage Plus account.

The entertainment service comes on almost instantly after take-off, offers about 50 movies and mulitple episodes of about 30 TV shows, and shuts off right around touch-down. Prospective users must download the free app from either Apple or Google before traveling. Here is the link to United’s Personal Device Entertainment page.

Notes:

  • United’s service is free (so far).
  • This is not wifi. With United, wifi is a separate on-board service that is available for a fee on a growing number of their aircraft.
  • Download the app before you fly.
  • Other airlines, including Alaska, Delta, and American also offer similar services, such as the GoGo In Flight Video.