Personally, I like the idea of having WiFi available in flight - and never mind the nay-saying below:
But there are handicaps, including the lack of electrical outlets in most coach cabins (so usage is limited by battery life), and the question of how much demand there actually is for an Internet hookup at the prices being contemplated. AirTran, for example, is charging $9.95 for flights under three hours and $12.95 for those over three hours.
So far, said Joe Brancatelli, publisher of the business travel Web site Joesentme.com, "there is zero proof" that a significant number of passengers are willing to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi service on domestic routes. (The Aircell service depends on land-based cellular towers and cannot be used on overseas flights.)
Mr. Brancatelli needs to get out more. In particular, he should wander through a terminal sometime, and ponder the number of people paying for a few hours (or a whole day) of WiFi for an hour or two of wait time. if people will pay in the terminal, I'll bet they'll pay in the air, too. The larger questions are:
- Can't we have a system that works on really long trans-oceanic flights?
- Will there be enough available bandwidth to make the purchase worthwhile?
I suspect that raw demand won't be a problem, but crappy service could kill it.
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