I only read the best stuff while on my flights. Taken just a few minutes ago.
I am currently posting this from 36,239 feet on a Virgin America flight from San Francisco (SFO) to Seattle (SEA). The in-seat map tells me we are over Central Oregon. Today I flew to San Fran and I’m now flying right back to Seattle to test out Virgin America’s in-flight entertainment system. I will post a full review of my experience on Monday, but while enjoying the Wi-Fi, I wanted to talk about it a little bit.
I am currently accessing the internet via GoGo and I don’t have to pay a dime. Virgin America, with Google, is offering free Wi-Fi on all their flights from now until January 15, 2010. Delta Air Lines, with eBay, is providing free Wi-Fi for a week starting November 24th.
The free internet is not only for folks on an airplane. Until January 15, 2010 Google will provide complimentary Wi-Fi in 47 airports across the country, including Las Vegas, Boston, Houston, Miami, and Seattle.
Seattle was supposed to be one of the 47 airports with free Wi-Fi. However, when I was there earlier today, I was excited to do some blogging while waiting for my flight to leave but it wasn’t free. Luckily I have an iPhone (airline and tech nerd) and found that there is a contract issue between AT&T (the current provider) and the airport.
Other airports got the Wi-Fi this Tuesday, but Seattle won’t be seeing it until November 18th. Every cloud has its silver lining; Seattle and Burbank airports will have free Wi-fi forever. I guess I will be ok with no Wi-Fi today for perpetually free Wi-Fi in a few days.
I am no stranger to technology and I fly quite a bit, but every time I have the access to the internet while flying, it feels magical. Some people say the magic of flying is gone but I disagree, it just depends on who you fly.
Internet is the future of airline travel. I feel that all airlines will have internet access in the near future. Once an airline cuts the Wi-Fi for landing, it is only a few minutes to re-connect on the 3G network and be connected once again. Awhile back, I talked about the possibility of having free Wi-Fi on airlines, but Andrew Compart with Things with Wings came up with another possible change that Wi-Fi could cause.
He caught something interesting in the Google media release about the free Wi-Fi, “A recent study conducted by the Wi-Fi Alliance reported that 50% of business travelers take red-eye flights in order to be “reachable” during business hours, and an overwhelming 82% said that being connected through Wi-Fi would help solve that problem.”
He brings up a good question that with business travelers having access to Wi-Fi during their flights, will fewer take red eye flights? Will that affect an airline’s business flying at night? I hope not. For personal travel, I enjoy red-eyes since I am able to sleep and I want as much vacation time as possible.
A year ago, there was barely any Wi-Fi on any flights. Hopefully a year from now Wi-Fi will be so common that there’s nothing left to even write about.. I think I am going to wrap up now, time to play Doom for the rest of the flight back home!
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Delta Boeing 767 - taken after landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
This new segment looks at the airline industry head-on, reporting first-hand experiences of air travel.
Date: June 21, 2009
Airline: Delta Air Lines
Flight: 1059 Atlanta to Seattle
Plane: Boeing 767-300
Seat: 17A/17B (flying with girlfriend)
Extras: $2 for ear phones, $5 for beer, $8 for salad
I was a little excited since I haven’t been able to fly in a Boeing 767 for sometime. I was flying with my girlfriend and it was nice knowing we would have two seats together (this plane was configured in 2-3-2 layout).
Folks loading up on the Delta Air Lines Boeing 767
Had a little issue with checking in. I love using the e-podiums for speed and efficiency, but took about five minutes to have someone come to get the bag and to tell me it weighed 53lbs (3 lbs over the 50lb limit). She said they would have to charge me $90 for the 3lbs. Sigh. I got to play the “Let’s Re-Pack in Line” game. After getting the weight down to 47lbs took another 5 minutes for the lady to come back.
After that, it was easy getting to the gate. The flight was on time and boarded very quickly (I was impressed since it was almost a full flight).
I was hoping the flight would have WiFi (it didn’t), but it did have the Delta on Demand in-seat entertainment system.
I am dpb. And I am not doing well.
It has movies, satellite tv, real-time airplane location, and games…yes games. The movies and games cost money ($6 for a movie and $5 to play all the games), but on a long trip, this can be worth the money. There is a free trivia game, where one can play against others on the plane. Argh. I did not do well and since it shows my score and seat #, people walking by could see who the idiot was who got 0/11 questions right. I stopped playing at that point. I swear I am not that dumb, but there were questions I just didn’t get. Found it interesting that people in first class kept winning. Still, this is quite a cool feature and I hope airlines expand on this concept (like Virgin America) where passengers can interact with one another.
Then I was excited to catch up on some Mythbusters on Discovery Channel, but my sound didn’t work. Turned on my call light and no one came to assist for 10min (it happens, I know), but I finally caught someone while the drinks were being served and they had to reset my seat. Ah, they run linux — neat. And sound worked fine after reset. I am going to say I was able to crash Delta’s on board system!
That is Bellevue, WA (right out side of Seattle) seen before landing. My window was oddly dirty.
It was a long flight and I wanted a (grown-up) drink and my girlfriend was hungry. I got a nice cold beer and she got a pretty good salad. Delta is still accepting cash, but prefers credit cards, so it is nice to have a choice still (although, had to watch the flight attendants try to make change which is always a pain).
About 2 hours into the flight the TV started to go out. After about 15 minutes about 8 channels started working again (there are only 18 channels to begin with — 4 of which are sports). Luckily the channel I was watching was one of the ten that worked. I have to say being able to watch TV while in flight sure makes the flight seem VERY short.
The rest of the flight went smoothly. I was able to do some work (no wi-fi, but offline work is better than nothing).
Was able to check out Bellevue, WA while landing and some sun was popping out of the sky. Yes, it was cloudy and a bit rainy, but that was ok. We had just spent 10 days in sunny, humid Tampa, FL and we were looking forward to the clouds.
My two favorite moments of the flight come at the end. #1 having to sit there, waiting for the plane to unload and #2 waiting for bags. Had a close friend come to pick us up and back home to blog!
Overall very good flight. The only downsides were some customer service difficulties. Mostly dealing with having to wait for someone to take our checked bags and no one coming when I called the flight attendant. The lure of technology let me forget the service issues, but this might have been a different story if my seat reset wouldn’t have worked!
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That is AirTran Capt Greg Cleath on the right and he is not a fan of lasers on landing.
In Seattle, WA (where I live) there has been someone with too much time and a laser causing havoc with airliners. Over the past few months there have been about 2 dozen incidents. Mostly with a green laser, but more recently there has been a red. Either the same person is trying out a new laser or someone else thought it was neato to play with people’s lives and join in on the fun.
Although it is highly likely this person enjoys being talked about in the media, this got me wondering how often something like this happens.
There haven’t been any incidents so far, but being distracted while landing a plane with possibly hundreds of people on board is not a good situation.
This isn’t an isolated incident; it actually happens quite often, however, nothing beyond pilots complaining of damaged vision has been reported.
In June 2004, CNN reported that when pilots were exposed to a laser during a simulation, 67% experienced “adverse visual effects” and with a high powered level lasers, nine landings were aborted.
Although this has mostly been just annoying, I really don’t know how someone could live with themselves if they caused an airplane to crash. Many in the Seattle area speculate the local perp might be upset and protesting the new third runway.
Thanks to Dorothy from Ireland for the tip! Source: KOMO Image: TheAirlineBlog.com