My new frustration with in-flight wifi

I’m curious whether I’ve just been really unlucky this month, or others encounter the same issue. In-flight Wi-Fi has changed my flying life. It’s amazing to be able to stay productive while in the air, and as much as I initially avoided it and wrote it off, I now don’t know how I lived without it.

But I’ve been in the same situation three times this month, and it’s making me a bit frustrated. Electronic devices have to be shut off when descending through 10,000 feet, which is maybe 10-15 minutes before landing. However, on several flights this month the captain forecasted turbulence on approach, and asked the flight attendants to prepare the cabin for landing early. I’m fine with the seats being in the upright position and tray tables stowed, though it sucks to have to put your laptops away 45 minutes earlier than usual just because the flight attendants can’t technically do their “safety checks” again.

The problem is that one of these flights was only about two hours and I purchased in-flight Wi-Fi specifically for that flight, so I got maybe 30 minutes of Wi-Fi instead of 90 minutes.

Anyway, just wondering if anyone else gets as worked up over this at times as I do. Bueller? 😀

Filed Under: Travel
  1. Similar but different story; My wife and I were flying Delta business class Kansas City to Anchorage which is a long flight so I bought gogo inflight wifi for each of us when I booked the flights. Little did I know that it only works over the continental US so most of our flight being over Canada and Alaska, we had no wifi. Most annoying is the fact that the price is higher than normal domestic flights I assume because of the length of the flight but does that make sense if it’s inoperable?

  2. This immediately made me think of the Louis CK bit referenced above…

    I also wondered why you wouldn’t purchase a flat monthly rate pass with the amount you travel? It’s a write off and you just don’t have to worry then. I love my decision to go gogo inflight monthly a few years back. I thought gogo inflight was pretty widely adopted in the US? It’s on almost all delta flights at least.

  3. @ MZT @ Jeffsetter — I have a monthly pass with American, though was flying Alaska in this case, where I pay per flight. Guess I should get one of those “all airline” Gogo passes.

  4. How are the flight attendants suppose to ensure the cabin is prepared for landing? Are you suggesting they risk themselves by getting up and doing a safety check, or risk fellow passengers by not doing a safety check? I know it sucks, but what would you recommend?

  5. @ Travis — Just sharing my frustration and not saying there’s a solution, but I do know two things:
    — Pilots in the US are too extreme with the seatbelt sign. They’ll turn it on if there’s the slightest bump. In all three cases there was hardly any turbulence on descent either, and you never see this happen on foreign airlines. Unless the forecast is *really* bad, I think it’s an overkill.
    — No one is safer by the flight attendants walking through the cabin an hour before landing to make sure electronic devices are off, because there’s nothing preventing anyone from turning them on once their checks are complete. It’s purely “theater.”

  6. What is even worse is buying the monthly pass and then having the gogo not work on every 1 in 4 flights. Gogo will refund $5 for the affected flight after a very long “chat” session. Seems like it goes out when you need it the most.

    As far as the post on the flight attendants – if you were in First Class they would let you continue using the internet. But if in economy you are scum!

  7. Probably won’t be popular, but gogo service really does stink and isn’t work more than $2-#3 per flight. Don’t get me wrong, it is great way to pass the time or get some work done, but for what they charge without guarantees as far as length of use or minimum acceptable throughputs. As least JetBlue and United’s service will be tiered both in throughput and cost…..

  8. Definitely, you want the all airline pass.

    And definitely, Alaska is more hardcore about turbulence than other airlines. (I pretty much knew you were flying AS from the post.)

  9. Three times in one month dies sound a bit excessive. I fly every week and rarely see it happen. Have you noticed it other months you fly? If it was that routine, I can see the frustration. Otherwise, I’d consider it a fluke month.

  10. Gogo has always been very generous/forgiving with requesting credits back. I’ve gotten several free day passes for voicing my issues in a free live chat session while sitting in my seat. Good use of a few minutes in an airline seat… Just tell them what happened and they’ll probably give you a code for an up to $14 pass free.

  11. Similar to other commenters’ experiences, I contacted gogo inflight once because the internet on the plane stopped working shortly after i paid for it. their support was pretty helpful (I was able to talk with them over the chat), and they basically just gave me a code to use for any future flight. So I would recommend doing that 🙂

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