Will 2009 be the year of better communication?
As I write this sitting on a plane heading to frigid Chicago 3 days before Christmas it bothers me to no end that in flight internet access is not a regularly available feature on airplanes. Forget for a moment that the few airlines that are doing it (Lufthansa I think is one) charge passengers for the privilege of wireless web access.
Of course I can still get a diet coke if I want for free. I would rather have the internet access by far. Seeing as I cannot pick up a bottle of internet access at the newsstand (either before or after airport security) I would think that providing free access to the internet on all flights in lieu of free sodas would be a much better deal for the airlines. Remember the airlines are the folks that have brought us the $ 6 can of Budweiser. So why not a $ 3 soda? The point is that the web is ubiquitous and it is more than a mere annoyance that you get to pay hundreds of dollars to sit in a tiny seat on short (under 3 hours) haul flights with no food or in-flight entertainment options (unless you fly Jet Blue). Now I don’t want to hear Mabel talking on her cell phone to her husband about what time he should be at the airport to pick her up – EVER! NO CELL PHONES IN FLIGHT. EVER! But in the interest of better communication I think the airlines are going about it all wrong. They don’t tell you when you will land but if there were internet access we could figure out what time we would land and at which gate at the very least!
While l waited for my flight (it was delayed three hours which happens I understand) the communication was not good at all as to if or when the flight would leave. Initially it was to be 2 hours late but somewhere along the way the communication stopped and 15 minutes before the flight was to depart a sign finally went up. Why don’t the airlines have an information officer on the premises to help passengers with information? The amount of goodwill this would engender would be palpable. I can get more information in the back of a New York City taxicab now (with internet enabled televisions becoming the norm) than I can in an airport.
And once you get to your destination you know what you get to experience. The likelihood of paying for internet connections at your hotel! And the more expensive the hotel the more likely you will have to shell out $ 10.95 or more for 24 hours of internet access. When traveling on business I often stay at Marriott Courtyards for the primary reason that they offer free internet access. And it is far less expensive to stay there than at most other hotels. I just don’t get this do you? If we are living in the information age why is so much access behind the iron curtain?
3G networks are on the rise and soon (but not soon enough for me) your internet enabled phone/pda will be able to access the web from anywhere and at great speeds (even in the air!) so eventually all this stupidity on charging for internet access will go away. Unfortunately you will still have to pay for checking your bags on most airlines (this is not going away sadly) and eventually pay for your soda too. It’s coming sooner and not later. 2009 may offer a little better communication than 2008 but we still have a long way to go.