Air Traveler's Tech Perspective

by AirGuide Online - The Best Source for Global Air Travel

If you count yourself among the ranks that racks up more frequent flyer miles than you know what to do with, chances are you're anxiously waiting for the day that reasonably priced, always-on Internet connectivity becomes a reality -- both on the ground and in the air. We've asked a leading expert on travel and air transport to help us provide perspective on the present and future outlook for airport and in-flight technology. Here are highlights of our conversation with Aram Gesar, Editor of AirGuide Magazine and AirGuideOnline.

Getting Connected At The Airport
Unless business takes you to small markets or you're a member of an airline airport club, you're probably still in search of Wi-Fi nirvana. "Large airports have been slow to establish wireless networks because of their size, but smaller airports are offering free Wi-Fi to attract business travelers," says Aram Gesar. Check out for a list of all the airports offering free wireless access. At the larger airports there are often a variety day pass and one-time use options available ranging from $5 to $15. Aram suggests to locate hotspots in major metro areas. Looking to the future, Gesar says, "we can expect to see technology in airports to mirror what frequent flyers use at the office and home, but this will be a slow evolution based on customer feedback and demand."

Climb To 50,000 Feet And Never Miss A Beat
In-flight connectivity holds the most productivity promise for business travelers, and many would be willing to pay handsome fees for access. However, adoption isn't moving as quickly as some domestic travelers may hope. Aram Gesar indicates that Connexion by Boeing, which offers high-speed wireless access on planes for fees ranging from $10 to $30, "is currently available on 65 aircraft by 11 airlines. By the end of 2006, about 150 aircraft will be enabled." Airbus' OnAir, which will offer in-flight Internet connectivity and cellular service, will launch in 2006. At this point, Connexion and OnAir integration plans are focused on long-haul international routes.

According to Gesar, "the airlines are taking a cautious approach to integrating new technologies across the board. They're talking to customers, testing and avoiding multimillion dollar technology mistakes. They've learned the hard way that it doesn't pay to install new technology across their fleets at huge costs, only to find out that the passengers don't put it to use. However, key findings from an early sampling of 1,600 Connexions by Boeing service users indicate a high probability that Wi-Fi service will become a great tool for the airlines to keep and capture new high-yield business and leisure travelers."

  • 93% are satisfied or very satisfied with overall service
  • 33% of customers surveyed have used the service 2-4 times already
  • 85% indicated that availability of high-speed Internet access would impact their future choice of airlines

    Time does seem to fly, particularly when it comes to technology. Before we know it, we'll all be sitting in the air reading and responding to e-mails, browsing the Web, paying bills, trading stocks, and participating in conference calls (rather than catching up on it at midnight after a busy meeting day)!

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