Inflight WiFi "Rules" Keeps Sky Surfers In Check

We've heard of crazy recommendations and pointless surveys, but man, this is just world-class comedy here. Though, to be fair, most everything recommended is legitimate, but it's mostly common knowledge. Inflight Wi-Fi is expected to soar in popularity of the next few years--that's a well known fact at this point--but debates are still raging over whether or not that's a good thing.

Most airlines, if not all, have disabled VoIP calling while on their planes. This keeps patrons from dialing up friends via Skype while onboard, and in turn making every other passenger around them furious and agitated. A recent survey commissioned by 3M found that four in five business travelers admitted that they wanted inflight Wi-Fi, so they sought travel expert Chris McGinnis to type out the following "manners list" to follow while surfing at 30,000 feet:

  • Enjoy the view without the glare. While you may enjoy the view from your window seat, be aware that your seatmate may be using the time to catch up on some work or watch a movie on his or her laptop. Since the glare from the window makes it difficult to view computer screens, ask if the glare is a problem and then agree to a happy medium.
  • Beware of prying eyes. While you may not be interested in what your seatmate is watching or working on, 49 percent of passengers admit to sneaking peeks at their neighbor's laptop(1). To help protect confidential information, consider using a 3M Privacy Filter, which prevents others from seeing what is on your laptop by darkening side views.
  • Dim that screen on night flights. Flying is the perfect time to catch up on all the TV shows or movies you've missed. But don't forget that the constant glow and flicker of the screen can irritate your seatmate, especially on overnight flights.
  • Lower the volume. You know the volume of your headphones is too loud when your neighbor can follow along with the movie you are watching on your laptop. Keep the volume at a reasonable level to avoid disturbing your seatmates.
  • Share the "juice." The Wi-Fi antenna on your laptop is a power hog and can drain your battery faster than you think. While some planes offer power plugs, every seat in a row may not have an electrical outlet available, so share the power supply with your neighbor.
  • Set your boundaries, but know your limits. It is never OK to comment on what someone else may be working on or watching, unless of course it is overly offensive or noisy. If a seatmate is watching something you find overly offensive, consider moving to another seat. If that's not possible, politely tell your seatmate that you find what they are watching offensive. If all else fails, ask your flight attendant to intervene.

To us, this all brings up a much larger point. Many airplanes used today are just not qualified to be used as Wi-Fi planes. What good is unlimited surfing for 6.5 hours when your battery dies after two? We'd love to see AC outlets in all coach seats as well as personal lights that can be angled down to better reflect on the screen. Do we really expect this to happen anytime soon? No, not with airlines charging fees for every last thing, but we do expect inflight Wi-Fi to become entirely more usable over time as fleets get upgraded.