Years ago, business travelers used to love or hate their flights. It was either a much-needed escape or a stint in solitary confinement. Like it or not, you were unreachable for the duration of your flight. No phones, no wifi, no Internet. If you didn’t bring out some printouts or reports to read, you didn’t have anything to work on.
Now, apart from the smaller seats, you can function as if you never left your office at all.
According to Routehappy’s 2017 wifi report, Global State of In-Flight Wifi, there is more in-flight connectivity than there has ever been. They found that 39 percent of global flights and 83 percent of U.S. flights’ actual seat miles — miles flown multiplied by the number of available seats — offer wifi connectivity as an amenity. There are also 60 airlines worldwide that now offer in-flight wifi over most regions of the globe.
“2016 was the year that airlines outside the U.S. committed to high-quality, in-flight wifi at a rate only previously seen by U.S. carriers, and 2017 will see those commitments come to life,” Routehappy CEO Robert Albert said in a Business Travel News article.
Three carriers boasted the highest wifi availability: Delta, United Airlines, and Emirates. Only one US carrier, Virgin Airlines, was able to claim 100 percent availability on all its flights.
This bodes well for customers of Alaska Airlines, which acquired Virgin in December 2016. Meanwhile, JetBlue had just completed retrofitting all its planes with wifi service, but it is only available on its flights across the continental US.
While wifi connectivity is more and more prevalent on US and international flights, making the best use of it still requires a bit of planning. Downloading documents or entertainment options at home, such as podcasts or television episodes, before you fly will increase the speed at which you can access them while connected to your flight’s wifi system.
Business travelers, how important is wifi to your in-flight productivity? And will you pay for it, or only use it if it’s free? And will it be just as important to have on the flights that fall under the laptop ban? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.
Photo credit: Tom Woodward (Flickr, Creative Commons)