The number of airlines offering WiFi service on select planes has grown exponentially, but it certainly hasn’t become an industry standard. For those who spend a significant amount of time in the air, there are definite advantages to a hotspot aircraft; here are ten of the reasons I wish the service was offered on every plane I boarded.
- Making Hotel Reservations – There’s always at least one detail that falls through the cracks during the travel-arrangement process. Realizing that you don’t have a hotel booked at takeoff makes for a nerve-wracking flight, especially during heavy travel season.
- Arranging Car Rental – The ability to arrange car rental in-flight is another huge perk of airline WiFi; like hotel reservations, booking a rental can sometimes fall through the cracks of planning.
- Flight Updates – The ability to check on delayed connecting flight or get real-time flight information online is another great convenience feature in-flight internet access offers.
- Entertainment On Demand – Gone are the days of bad in-flight movies; internet access makes watching video and listening to the online radio station of your choice a snap.
- Working In-Flight – While there are plenty of people who consider their flight time a chance to decompress, being able to work on projects and answer email while en route to a business destination or tie up loose ends before landing in a vacation spot offers serious peace of mind.
- Instant Messaging – Talking to friends and family members on the ground to coordinate airport pickups and make plans really cuts down on itinerary-related confusion.
- Trip Planning – Checking out local restaurants, sightseeing and places of interests around your travel destination before ever touching the ground is a luxury afforded to the lucky few who manage to get a WiFi enabled flight; it’s also one of the reasons I wish all flights had WiFi.
- Long Flights Are Boring – One of the easiest things to do online is to waste time. While this can lead to trouble on the ground, it’s a blessing on those mind-numbing extended flights.
- Social Networking – Though it’s only been a part of daily life for a few years, most of us can barely remember what life was like before Facebook and Twitter. Being cut off from what’s quickly becoming our biggest social outlet for too long can be unsettling, to say the least.
- Weather Updates and Forecasts – Checking the current weather conditions of your destination can be important, especially to track developing storms or weather that could affect your plans. Access to extended forecasts, radar and any potential problems allows for last-minute adjustments.
Most major airlines have plans to introduce WiFi capability to all of their planes by the end of 2012, but there are some indications that it hasn’t reached the expected level of popularity in the test markets. With travelers citing the relatively high cost of access and inconvenience of using a laptop in the close quarters of coach, airlines could potentially opt not to expand their WiFi offerings.