Friday, January 20, 2017

Internet Connectivity is Becoming a Staple on Many Domestic Flights

Internet access is considered a "must-have" by many Americans, especially when on te move. In an increasingly spread-out and mobile world, consumers want constant access to the Internet to keep in touch with family and friends, or just as often, to get their work done. Long bus, train, or airplane trips can either be several hours of stress for a businessperson, or the perfect time for them to get through some of their work. Because of that, Wi-Fi aboard all forms of transportation has become more commonly provided throughout the country. In his L.A. Times article, Hugo Martin discusses Wi-Fi aboard airlines and their increased prevalence in recent years.

When Wi-Fi on airlines was introduced just a few years ago, it seemed like an overpriced gimmick that no one was really using. Eventually, though, as smartphones became more popular, airline passengers had a way to surf the Internet without lugging around a bulky laptop in their bag. So quickly that no one could tell when exactly the trend shifted, in-flight Wi-Fi became a highly-demanded amenity. From businesspeople keeping up with work emails to the average Joe checking their social media accounts, the technology had to quickly catch up to provide high enough speeds for users to feel like the high prices they were being charged were justified.

In-flight Wi-Fi has become so prevalent that a recent study showed that a passenger has an 83% chance of having access to the Internet on a domestic flight, which is up from 74% in 2015. Unfortunately, that same research found that the chance of having internet access on an international flight is only 28%. The three airlines with the most internet connectivity are Emirates, United, and Lufthansa, especially on long-distance flights where the demand would be higher.

While many American companies are trying to keep up with the trend, some are providing Wi-Fi that is good enough to check emails, but not good enough to stream a movie or TV show. Still, there a significant number of companies, including JetBlue and Southwest Airlines that are aiming to outfit all of their planes with high-speed internet connectivity by the end of the year. JetBlue's will be free, while Southwest's is expected to cost about $8 per day, per device. Overall, for most users, a high-speed internet connection while traveling is well worth similar fees. Eventually, it seems, in-flight internet will likely become an included amenity, available on all airlines. Only time will tell how long it will be until that becomes the status quo.

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