Flights have long been the worst kind of dead time. Suspended hundreds of miles above the ground, passengers are usually like cranky cattle forced to endure cooped-up pens and bad food. The logical way to pass the time was in flight entertainment.
The first movie was shown on a plane as far back as 1921 - ‘Howdie Chicago’ on Aeromarine airways. In flight entertainment really started to take off in the 1960s though. Pan Am was the first airline to have television monitors on its flights. In 1975 Braniff International Airways came up with the genius idea of allowing customers to play Atari computer games during the flight.
Sadly in flight entertainment has not got much better over the last 50 years. Virgin used to wow customers with its range of in flight entertainment. But the last couple of times I have flown with Virgin Atlantic the TV channels failed to work properly making an annoying transatlantic flight even more unpleasant. So all the latest developments to allow people to access the internet and plug in their IPods on planes are most welcome.
Alaska Airlines is to put Wi-Fi capability on their flights. Using Gogo’s 3G to WiiFi system, the price of the Wi-Fi will depend on how long the flight is and what kind of internet device is used. If you use a hand-held device such as a Smartphone it will cost $8 per day and this does not depend on how long the flight is. For a Notebook it will cost $5 for a red eye flight (a flight which departs late at night) and the price could go up to $13 for flights that are more than three hours duration.
Initially Alaska Airlines will trial the system on a Boeing 737-800 plane pending Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval. Alaska Airlines will then use it on all planes if it proves to be successful.
Internet and IPod portable music player capability is becoming a strong trend on flights. American Airlines, Air Tran, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Air Canada and Virgin America are airlines which already use Wi-Fi. New Zealand
Airlines is now installing USB cables, and power connections for PC computers and IPods. This is a comprehensive service. It improves on the fact that some airlines only offer power at one source which forces people to switch off their devices mid-way through the flight.