[telecom] Wi-Fi, Once a Nicety, Is Now a Need for Some Air Passengers

Wi-Fi, Once a Nicety, Is Now a Need for Some Air Passengers

By HARRIET EDLESON October 1, 2012

Tony Drockton, who owns a luxury handbag company in Southern California, used to take the overnight flight to New York, rather than waste business hours out of touch.

But now, his flight time is his work time as airlines increasingly offer Wi-Fi connections on their planes.

"I need to stay connected so people don't realize where I am," said Mr. Drockton, who now travels with a laptop, smartphone and over-the-ears headphones. "It allows me to fly during business hours and not miss any day."

As to those travelers who enjoyed a few hours of being out of touch with the office, those days may be ending. Before Wi-Fi, "you had an excuse not to be in touch if you didn't want to be," said Henry H. Harteveldt, co-founder of Atmosphere Research Group, an airline and travel industry analyst in San Francisco. "The one last bastion of being off the grid has been taken away."

And as airlines race to create connectivity on international flights through satellite Wi-Fi, the ability to stay online in the skies will only increase, experts say.


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***** Moderator's Note *****

Having just completed a transcontinental flight, I agree that being connected while in the air can be a nice thing: it's nice to be able to check connecting flights while sitting comfortably and finishing a glass of Glenfidich.

For those whose livelihoods depend on always-on connectivity, such as stockbrokers watching the market, the new WiFi capability will be a welcome feature on their flights.

Bill Horne Moderator

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Monty Solomon
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