Chicago (IL) – Virgin America is currently running a Beta test of its in-flight Wi-Fi Service. While it is great news that Internet access in the air is becoming more and more available, there are some guidelines you should be aware of before you are getting too excited about this new service.
In-air Internet is not exactly new, but it seems that this time it might be here to stay as it is more thoroughly planned and there is certainly a demand for it. But there are still some downsides.
Of course, your Internet is not going to fly, in fact, it might sometimes creep. The speed should be between 3.0 Mb/s and 4.0 Mb/s down, and 1.0 Mb/s and 2.0 Mb/s up, and that isn’t horrible but it will be much slower than a cable modem, and a little faster than the slowest of DSL speeds. Bandwidth will also be shared between wireless customers, meaning that it is possible that your neighbor could bog you down to turtles pace without realizing it. And as soon as soon as you get music downloaders and video streamers your connection may be slowed to a crawl.
Nothing good in life is ever free, so the in-flight Wi-Fi is going to cost you. Virgin American, for example charges passengers $9.95 to access the Internet on flights that are less than three hours in length; passengers on any flight that is over three hours will find themselves paying $12.95.
The rules about cruising with your wireless devices won’t change, meaning you won’t be able to use your laptop or open any wireless devices until you are at an altitude suitable for cruising.
Even though you are able to carry along your PC with no problem, many airlines do not offer 110 volt AC power plug-ins for every seat in their coach or economy class, meaning you better have an extended battery life for those extended flights.
The introduction of in-flight Wi-Fi could also potentially mean the demise of a restful flight. No longer will your boss give you those three hours to yourself. You will be expected to work while traveling. In fact, flights that offer Go Go service will even allow you to connect to your VPN, meaning you will be on your company’s server with no excuses to not get things done.
In-flight Wi-Fi has been something individuals have been begging for. However, once you get it, it might prove to be not all its cracked up to be, for more reasons than one.