New York Times reports today that starting next week United Airlines will begin to roll out tests of a new Internet service on its planes. On Tuesday, JetBlue will begin offering free email and instant messaging service on one of its planes, and American Airlines, Virgin America and Alaska Airlines have plans to offer full fledged Internet service for about $10 per flight. (CrunchGear reports that American Airlines' program will be free.)The
Though Internet service will still not be available during take off and landing (you know, when you can't use your laptop), once at cruising altitude getting online while enroute will eventually become the norm on plane flights. "In a few years time, if you get on a flight that doesnÄôt have Internet access, it will be like walking into a hotel room that doesnÄôt have TV," Henry Harteveldt of Forrester Research told the Times.
For many casual travelers, getting online during flight will fall into two categories: "Who cares?" (for those who don't bring their laptops with them on flights and would rather read a book or magazine) and "That's kind of cool, I guess" (for those who might like to play a couple of rounds of Scrabulous or Desktop Tower Defense to pass the time). But for many business travelers, being able to stay connected in flight is a blessing -- or a curse.
Obviously, for many business people, being able to stay connected with the office will be a huge time saver. Being online while flying will let them save time and get work done that they could only get accomplished with an Internet connection. But I know many frequent business travelers who view their disconnected time in the air as a mini-vacation. A way to either relax and catch up on reading, or get work done without the distraction of the Internet -- i.e., catch up on emails without more flooding in, or get some writing done in a distraction free environment, etc.
What do you think? Are you excited at the prospect of logging on while in the air or are you bummed that the Internet is about to permeate one more aspect of your life?