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I was so looking forward to an Airbus 380 ride on Quantas next year as part of an around the world trip that I've been thinking of doing in the late fall of 2013. But now that Quantas has decided to not move aggressively with Wi-Fi on their overnight long hauls, I'm having to rethink the whole thing.
The news on Skift caught me be surprise, as on every flight I take on Virgin America, Delta or Alaska has Wi-Fi and people use it. The issue is not so much whether or not people want to use Wi-Fi or not, but with consistent availability. Yesterday on my short haul Southwest flight from Las Vegas to San Diego there was Wi-Fi, for $5.00 or free for the A listers, which I'm not any longer. I'm not an A Lister because Virgin has taken me away from Southwest with the consistent Wi-Fi experience, as has Alaska for flights to Seattle or Portland which previously were trips Southwest would have won out on with my travel dollar.
The lack of a consistent experience, meaning Wi-Fi not on ALL planes of an airline is likely more at the root cause of why passengers have apathy towards Wi-Fi. As someone who actually used the old Boeing Connexxion service in its era, I knew the value of being connected in the air first hand, back when we launched the seminal Nokia Blogger Relations Program, as I managed the launch from the air, and was able to make comments, answer questions and most importantly make and communicate decisions while I was flying. And that was by both happenstance and design.
For in-flight Wi-Fi to take off two things need to happen. Consistency and sensible pricing. The technology to make both is not far off, but for Quantas to decide now that broadband in the sky isn't necessary sounds more like an aborted take-off, than a smooth landing.
A few hours later, Ethiad, the "other" airline in the Gulf region who is building a great reputation amongst business travelers announced they are ADDing Wi-Fi to their fleet of jets.