Flying high with Wi-Fi…maybe not

All the major airlines are rushing to add in-flight Wi-Fi service but are overlooking a critical component…the space to actually operate a laptop computer while seated in a plane. See Joe Sharkey . I use a 17 inch Macbook Pro and the only way it’s coming open in coach is if I scrunch the keyboard up to my chin and/or slide down in the seat. This makes viewing uncomfortable and typing impossible. Also, with elbow to elbow seating it’s frequently impossible to operate the touch pad or keyboard without simultaneously elbowing my seat mate and becoming a target for the drink cart. Since many airlines have discontinued domestic first class, switched to regional “pencil jets” , pack every seat on the plane (or all three) the exit row is about the only place you can realistically use a laptop.

Southwest was testing Wi-Fi on two planes earlier this year.

Southwest was testing Wi-Fi on two planes earlier this year.



Wi-Fi enabled smart phones and the teeniest of notebook computers will be about the only devices able to take advantage of airplane Wi-Fi.  Since more space on the plane is not likely to open up in my lifetime I’m looking forward to a smaller, tablet device (that Apple has been rumored to be working on). I suspect other companies will also begin to develop devices larger than a smart phone with airline passengers in mind. The new Kindle2 (and coming KindleDX) would be perfect devices for this but they don’t do Wi-Fi. 

Two steps forward….one step back.


~ by keithphilpott on May 19, 2009.

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