Here’s how Chris replied:
Connectivity is indeed getting better on flights, but it’s a very slow process, which is frustrating to business travelers who increasingly rely on the service.
The thing that frequent travelers must realize it that inflight wi-fi is still a very new product, and the expectation that you’ll get a good, strong signal like you do at home of office needs to be reined in. Airlines are partially to blame for inflating expectations.
Consistency is the biggest issue on major carriers, but less so on smaller carriers. For example, JetBlue’s satellite-based FlyFi system is excellent and relatively consistent. Virgin America has Gogo’s latest, fastest ATG-4 ground based system on all its planes, which means a more consistent experience. But both have small fleets compared to the majors which makes consistency easier.
United’s satellite-based system is great when it works, but out of four recent flights, it’s only worked on one of them for me. United uses several different systems on different planes in different parts of the world, so the experience is far from consistent, regrettably. On my regular flights between Atlanta and San Francisco on Delta, I’ve had mixed experiences, especially when flying on a big 767 when there are a lot more passengers logging on to Gogo– the signal goes in and out, which is very frustrating.
Virgin America is installing a new satellite-based system on its new planes that should help increase reliability, but right now, it’s only on two or three of its newest planes, a fact that is downplayed in all the recent promotion of its deal with Spotify, Netflix, etc. All its other planes have ground-based Gogo ATG-4, which is good, but it’s still tough getting a signal on a biz travel heavy morning flight between SFO and JFK, for example.
Putting wi-fi on planes is expensive, so I do not expect the freebies (as on Virgin and JetBlue) to last. Plus, charging for the service limits usage, and limited usage leads to better connections onboard, which is part of the reason Gogo has increased it’s prices so much recently– to improve performance.
Are you a regular user of inflight wi-fi? Has you experience been getting better or worse lately? Please leave your comments below.
NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: Global Entry gets more global + New York’s lowest ranked hotels +Best/worst hotel programs for awards + More flat seats