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Would you surf in the sky?

First, Wi-Fi was available in coffeehouses and in libraries. Soon after, it made it onto city buses and even trains. And in the last couple of years, wireless Internet could be found on airplanes as well. The difference is that most airlines charge for Wi-Fi onboard, but in other places it’s free (as long as you buy a cappuccino).

However, as Scott McCartney of The Wall Street Journal reports in a new article on Bing Travel, Wi-Fi on airplanes is getting a lukewarm reception from passengers. Most fliers agree that Wi-Fi is a nice thing to offer, but they wouldn’t want to pay for it. Even though many people travel with their laptops, it’s estimated that only 12-15% of passengers are using the service on Virgin America, which McCartney believes is likely higher than the industry average.

We have to agree with the majority of passengers on this one. Generally, we kill the time in the air watching the free in-flight entertainment, thumbing through trashy magazines or reading up on our destination. And even if you’re traveling with a laptop, you can compose e-mails offline, watch DVDs and play games — all without an Internet connection. So what would make you want to pay to get online during a flight?

Have you paid for in-flight Wi-Fi, and what do you think would be a reasonable fee for the service? Would you log in and surf in the sky if Wi-Fi was free on all flights? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.


  • What are the technical challenges involved in putting a wifi network in a plane? why should the passengers pay for it?

  • What are the technical challenges involved in putting a wifi network in a plane? why should the passengers pay for it?

  • if it cost to get wifi on a plane then u should pay for it but if its free then no

  • It will be a better service to offer Wi-Fi on air. If that was not a burden to airlines and if technically feasible, better to provide. I was thinking that, previously Airline Association planned to avoid paper ticketing system to help the environment and to reduce costs. I dunno what to suggest you now.

  • i have an iPod touch and i would use free wi-fi on flights to access my social networking apps. when you are on a flight sometimes you wish you could talk to a friend, use skype to call someone just by using wi-fi safely. or use apps such as whosHere and buddy to talk to friends over the internet without using mobile phone technology which isn't allowed on flights.

  • The funny thing is, people are willing to pay for Wi-Fi in airports. Not exactly sure why this is, but there you go. Maybe if it was cheaper, say, $5 instead of $10, I might go for it, but for two hours? Nah.

  • I agree with what Chaimss said last, if the plane ride is at most a few hours are people that dependent on technology? that they can't leave it for a few hours while they are getting where they are going. I would not pay for it, because i would not use it. this is just my opinion.

  • Someone comment on the technical aspects of the problem. it would be a nice engineering problem.

  • I guess I'm in that 15% of people paying to use WiFi on Virgin America! I do so much dashing around when I'm traveling (as I have to research so many places and that takes a lot of legwork) that having several hours to be quiet with my laptop and the internet is a godsend. I wish the charges were lower (or better yet, didn't exist), but I think with the airlines all experiencing financial problems right now, that's not likely to happen. Unless, perhaps, Southwest makes this another one of their marketing gimmicks, like now baggage fees. Southwest, are you listening?

  • I love Wi-Fi when flying.  I can spend the long, boring flight IM'ing friends, shopping, or catching up on some of the online forums I belong to.  It also keeps my mind off of how cramped and restless my legs feel. I wouldn't pay for the service for a short flight, but wouldn't mind a reasonable fee on some of my longer trips.  

  • Personally it isn't the price of a internet connection that puts me off paying for connecting somewhere. It is the drudge of plodding slowly through the poorly designed clunky service sign ups, navigating all the distracting slow loading adverts and messing around with the credit card, my address, do I want life membership of a service I will only likely use once etc. That is the obstacle to my signing up - not the price. Fix that please and I would sign up every time.

  • The airlines might as well try to squeeze blood from a stone.  People are not used to paying for internet service on a frequency more than once a month, any more than they are used to paying baggage fees.  People will vote with their pocketbooks(no spending).  A few people will use it - just like first class, but not enough to support their business model.

  • Anybody every hear of Connexion by Boeing? Approximately $1B invested and they learned people only use on-board internet access when it's free. That service was launched in 2003 and was great from a technology viewpoint. The problem was the market segment willing to pay was too small to support the business model.

  • why not pay for access to the phone service that we have allready paid for and the overpriced phone, that we have already paid for? Why not pay a penny for each time we touch one of the keys that you can't touch without touching two others? Why not put a monitor in the seat that records each time we pass gas and pay for that?

  • Knowing how badly the airlines are suffering financially, and wanting to access Wi-fi, I would definitely pay for this service.  

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