I’m on my way to Detroit from Salt Lake city, and I’m writing this blog post from 30,000 feet on a Delta Airlines flight with Wi-Fi capability. I wish I could say that the experience thus far is amazing, but I can’t.
Just as I finished that sentence, I bumped elbows with a fellow passenger as I attempted to get my fingers over my laptop keys. I have to keep adjusting the angle of my screen as the person in the seat in front of me adjusts the leaning of his seat, and it took more than 10 minutes just to connect to the wifi due to the sub broad-band speeds (I used the free promotional code that Delta provided).
These problems may not exist for a person who has shorter arms, or someone using a netbook rather than a 15″ widescreen laptop, or for someone who is willing to fork out the money for business class seating where there is more lap room. Due to these constraints, I wouldn’t recommend trying to do work while in one of the coach-class seats.
I also have no assurance on the security of this network, and with every sentence and keystroke visible to my single-serving seat-row mates, I’m hesitant to log into sensitive applications. I’m also inept with the touchpad versus a mouse of somesort, and due to seating space constraints, mice and any other peripheral larger than a usb thumb drive can be safely stowed in their upright and locked positions for the duration of the flight.
If nothing else, the diversion is welcome from the standard fare of lack-luster movies, kiddie size beverages, and redundant terrain view that I may have from my window seat. I should be able to follow up on my twitter, arrange a ride from the airport, and maybe do some catching up on my RSS feed, but overall, the experience needs some retooling for me to be willing to pay for the service, which is $9.95 for a flight less than 3 hours, or around $25 for longer flights.
Since it is usable at altitudes above 10,000 feet, if you elect to use the wifi service be sure to wrap-up all your internet activities, as once you drop below that altitude, the wifi will be automatically turned off and all facebook stalking and tweeting will automatically cease. Bring your altimeter or go the easier route and pack a book for your in-flight entertainment.
UPDATE: The internet seems to be faster now (see results in image below), and I should mention some excellent tips for working on a plane at: http://www.workshifting.com/2009/11/inflight-workshifting-tips.html .