How my approach to in-flight wifi has changed

I used to be a firm supporter of the “keep wifi the hell off of my planes” movement. While I love the internet, airplanes were the one place I was able to disconnect. As soon as the aircraft door closed I knew nothing in the world could bother me for the next several hours (other than nuts not heated to my optimal temperature, but that’s neither here nor there).

So I guess you can officially say I’ve taken a 180 when it comes to in-flight wifi, since I made a pretty radical decision today. I need to take one more trip this year on American to requalify for Executive Platinum status, and I just booked a 737 with a slim shot at a first class upgrade, instead of the 767 leaving a couple of hours earlier where I would almost be guaranteed an upgrade to American’s international business class product. Worst of all, American’s 737s don’t even all have wifi, so it’s probably a 50/50 shot at wifi.

Yes, so I literally gave up a near guaranteed (slanted) flat bed seat for a (roughly) 50% shot at wifi, most likely in coach.

Shame on me?


  1. I knew it would only be a matter of time.

    Now … imagine (I know this will be tough for you) you flew Delta almost exclusively and then moved to another airline without WiFi on 97% of your flights.

  2. wifi on planes is a no brainer. If you don’t want, don’t pay for it. Why would anyone be against options?

  3. Nope, not dumb at all. When there’s actually work to do it’s invaluable. I think as a newly minted college student any “critical” work could be left at the jet bridge, but not any more. Also, congrats on the new gig!

  4. Im a big fan of on-board wifi too. But it’s maddening that AA can’t tell you at time of booking whether you’ll have it or not. Your case is a good example of that.

    I don’t understand why AA can’t do a better job of segmenting and scheduling their aircraft, to separate the wifi-equipped planes from those without. Recognizing that equipment swaps happen, and that nothing is guaranteed, I’d still like to know when booking that the 5 pm departure is likely to have it and the 7 pm flight isn’t.

    It goes beyond the $10 revenue that AA charges for the service. When deciding between AA and another carrier, knowing that I will or won’t have wifi would factor into the decision of who to fly: yes, there are times that I’d pay a premium on the airfare for knowing that I can be connected on board.

  5. As a new wifi convert, maybe it’s time to move over to DL. 100% on mainline and rolling out on the regionals as well.

    Might have some problems redeeming miles for IFC though.

  6. Ben..for what you do, it makes could reply emails, and answer our questions on the blog hehehe…! I say WIFI is the way!

  7. You are a Virtuoso Advisor now! Your clientele (fancy word for customers) will be much happier with your lighting fast responses.

    I cannot believe UA, the airline for business, is so woefully behind in this area. Here’s to their rapid improvements in 2012!

  8. I used to think that way about cruise ships. Before they offered online connectability, they offered the one vacation option where I could really get away from the pressure cooker of the office. Now computer access is my highest onboard expense, other then some shore excursions.

  9. One of the main reasons I don’t fly United nowadays is a lack of WiFi on their aircraft.

    It’s especially important for folks like myself who live on the west coast and don’t like red-eyes, as any east coast trips take up a good chunk of the day to complete and therefore having the ability to work while connected is extremely helpful.

    I do the exact same thing – I go out of my way to book MD80’s whenever possible because of the high chance of having WiFi on board. MD80, then 737, then 767’s for the seats.

    The MD80’s aren’t a bad ride in coach. Seat pitch is adequate and the seats themselves are comfortable. AA’s 757 flying museums can’t get cabin refreshes fast enough.

  10. This is a little crazy. I would DEFINITELY book the 767. Do all your work before (instead of blogging about it… ;-))

  11. Gotta say, I’d take the lie-flat over wi-fi any day. Ironically, I sometimes get more WORK done when I’m not actually connected!

    (Of course, lie-flat + AVOD usually distracts me from work anyway!)

  12. I still fly United and (1) download all my emails before boarding, answering as many as I can without connectivity, (2) bring all of the reading material I possibly need to get through (3) all of the documents I need to edit, and leaving a whole bunch of blanks pending info I need to check once I’m back online.

    It’s a ritual. I wish I had wifi on every flight, I don’t mind the $$$ I’d would pay it on most flights. But whether I’d take a 737 in coach over a 767 in a premium cabin depends on the route…. šŸ˜›

  13. I get more work done when I don’t have wi-fi. Otherwise, I’d spend all my time reading blogs like this one! šŸ˜‰

  14. I’m shocked at how UACO has fallen sharply behind nearly all of their peers in installing wi-fi to their aircraft. To an extent, so has AA where its “hit or miss.” DL and US lead the way in this department. Good for them

  15. The very fact that you made such a decision and that a lot of others feel the same way should be a wake-up call to carriers without it.

    Heck, we took a short ride on Amtrak recently and enjoyed FREE wi-fi on board – okay, they don’t offer it everywhere either but still…

  16. I would have gone for upgrade. I have mobile broadband for on the ground, comfort to me, especially international comfort is more important.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *