I remember when Southwest Airlines offered phones in the backs of the seats in front of you that could be used during flights. I can’t recall if any other airlines did that, mostly because I couldn’t really afford to fly the bigger names back then, but maybe they did. My partner flew Southwest, too, and he actually called once or twice. It was expensive and the reception was crap–always too low and too much background noise–but it was novelty. How cool was it to say you were flying over the northwest and, oh, would I please bring a cup of hot tea with organic milk and extra sugar when I picked his highness up in an hour? Yes, those were the days.

It also used to be that aside from in-flight movies, travelers resorted to entertaining themselves with reading newspapers, magazines and actually talking to each other. Not anymore. BusinesseI remember when Southwest Airlines offered phones in the backs of the seats in front of you that could be used during flights. I can’t recall if any other airlines did that, mostly because I couldn’t really afford to fly the bigger names back then, but maybe they did. My partner flew Southwest, too, and he actually called once or twice. It was expensive and the reception was crap—always too low and too much background noise—but it was novelty. How cool was it to say you were flying over the northwest and, oh, would I please bring a cup of hot tea with organic milk and extra sugar when I picked his highness up in an hour? Yes, those were the days.

It also used to be that aside from in-flight movies, travelers resorted to entertaining themselves with reading newspapers, magazines and actually talking to each other. Not anymore. Businesses have figured out that if they’re paying their people to travel, they ought to be doing work since time is money and they’re just sitting there anyway. Right? Talking = out. Laptops = in. And just when you thought it couldn’t get anymore antisocial, we’ve now got wireless internet available on flights, which opens the demographic up to social media addicts.

No matter that you just updated your Facebook status two hours ago and that the world knows where you’re going, what you’re wearing and how you feel about it. It’s just not enough. Provided you have enough battery power to last the flight and make it worthwhile, travelers can now log on and surf their little hearts out, chat with friends on Facebook, shop on Amazon, use a flight tracker—which strikes me as silly, really—and Tweet about the comfort of their seat or how much the person next to them in the cramped quarters known as Coach is spilling over their armrest. Because that’s interesting. I’m not sure in which culture, but surely one of them must find it fascinating. Not in mine, though.

And as often as I’ve sat on flights lately and enjoyed watching business people checking their e-mail, writing e-mail responses and setting up meetings because they had to—really, do we have lives that aren’t corporate-driven anymore—it never struck me that I would need to partake in using this new airline online accommodation. Not until recently anyway.

I’d flown into Palm Springs for the weekend and removed my car keys from my backpack to…well, somewhere just so I could head out with the backpack being as light as possible. The weekend progressed, ended and I finally had to pack. Only, after such a fun-filled couple of days with my brain frying in the sun, it never occurred to me that I hadn’t recalled seeing my keys since taking them out of the aforementioned backpack. And when it did occur to me, I was already flying over Utah. Not good!

There was no phone located in the seat in front of me, so I couldn’t call my partner or my parents. He might have seen where I put the keys or he might have moved them and forgotten to mention it. If so, my parents might have to drive out, pick me up, take me home, lend me their set of keys so I could get the extra set of car keys, then drive me back out to the airport to get my vehicle. Because this is SO much fun to do! But I did have my laptop.

Yes, I signed on. Yes, I managed to contact my parents on AOL and then chat with my partner, who hadn’t seen my keys. Yes, the guy sitting next to me got up to use the bathroom, so I used the opportunity to look in my carry-on baggage stored in the overhead bin and found them in a very deep pocket I’d forgotten about. Yes, it all worked out. But I still found myself using Delta’s Wi-Fi. What did I think about it? Let me tell you.

The cost is a bit much. $13 for a 3 and 1/2 hour flight? Really? My battery tends to last about 2 hours, so I’m really not even able to take full advantage of the time I’m paying for. Most of the hotels I’ve stayed in aren’t that expensive for a 24 hour period. Second, I wasn’t impressed with the speed. True, I was on my travel laptop, but even the aforementioned hotels were faster than this. Peeps on Facebook kept insisting I was signing off and on. I wasn’t. I was waiting for my screen to load when I clicked on something.

Would I use it again in a non-emergency situation? Probably not. If they came down in price a little? Sure. Heck, they’re going to be offering it as a free service from November 20th until January 2nd on AirTran, Delta and Virgin America for the holidays. Despite the promotion, I don’t see the prices going down anytime soon, not with businesses having their people still work while in the air. Chances are the company is picking up the tab and as long as they’re doing that, there will be people using the service. And when a social media addict sees someone else checking their e-mail or doing an update, they’ll be chomping at the bit to do the same.

“On plane tracking flight and wearing something fabulous now wrinkled by person next to me hogging armrest reading Trademark Productions website on work laptop.”s have figured out that if they’re paying their people to travel, they ought to be doing work since time is money and they’re just sitting there anyway. Right? Talking = out. Laptops = in. And just when you thought it couldn’t get anymore antisocial, we’ve now got wireless internet available on flights, which opens the demographic up to social media addicts.

No matter that you just updated your Facebook status two hours ago and that the world knows where you’re going, what you’re wearing and how you feel about it. It’s just not enough. Provided you have enough battery power to last the flight and make it worthwhile, travelers can now log on and surf their little hearts out, chat with friends on Facebook, shop on Amazon, use a flight tracker–which strikes me as silly, really–and Tweet about the comfort of their seat or how much the person next to them in the cramped quarters known as Coach is spilling over their armrest. Because that’s interesting. I’m not sure in which culture, but surely one of them must find it fascinating. Not in mine, though.

And as often as I’ve sat on flights lately and enjoyed watching business people checking their e-mail, writing e-mail responses and setting up meetings because they had to–really, do we have lives that aren’t corporate-driven anymore–it never struck me that I would need to partake in using this new airline online accommodation. Not until recently anyway.

I’d flown into Palm Springs for the weekend and removed my car keys from my backpack to…well, somewhere just so I could head out with the backpack being as light as possible. The weekend progressed, ended and I finally had to pack. Only, after such a fun-filled couple of days with my brain frying in the sun, it never occurred to me that I hadn’t recalled seeing my keys since taking them out of the aforementioned backpack. And when it did occur to me, I was already flying over Utah. Not good!

There was no phone located in the seat in front of me, so I couldn’t call my partner or my parents. He might have seen where I put the keys or he might have moved them and forgotten to mention it. If so, my parents might have to drive out, pick me up, take me home, lend me their set of keys so I could get the extra set of car keys, then drive me back out to the airport to get my vehicle. Because this is SO much fun to do! But I did have my laptop.

Yes, I signed on. Yes, I managed to contact my parents on AOL and then chat with my partner, who hadn’t seen my keys. Yes, the guy sitting next to me got up to use the bathroom, so I used the opportunity to look in my carry-on baggage stored in the overhead bin and found them in a very deep pocket I’d forgotten about. Yes, it all worked out. But I still found myself using Delta’s Wi-Fi. What did I think about it? Let me tell you.

The cost is a bit much. $13 for a 3 and 1/2 hour flight? Really? My battery tends to last about 2 hours, so I’m really not even able to take full advantage of the time I’m paying for. Most of the hotels I’ve stayed in aren’t that expensive for a 24 hour period. Second, I wasn’t impressed with the speed. True, I was on my travel laptop, but even the aforementioned hotels were faster than this. Peeps on Facebook kept insisting I was signing off and on. I wasn’t. I was waiting for my screen to load when I clicked on something.

Would I use it again in a non-emergency situation? Probably not. If they came down in price a little? Sure. Heck, they’re going to be offering it as a free service from November 20th until January 2nd on AirTran, Delta and Virgin America for the holidays. Despite the promotion, I don’t see the prices going down anytime soon, not with businesses having their people still work while in the air. Chances are the company is picking up the tab and as long as they’re doing that, there will be people using the service. And when a social media addict sees someone else checking their e-mail or doing an update, they’ll be chomping at the bit to do the same.

“On plane tracking flight and wearing something fabulous now wrinkled by person next to me hogging armrest reading Trademark Productions website on work laptop.”

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