Joe Sharkey has an update on the state of in flight WiFi in today's New York Times.
As a road warrior I choose my flights and hotels based on the broadband options available. Over the past month my trips to Northern California were 90 percent on Virgin America and only ten percent on Southwest. As an A Lister on Southwest the switch to Virgin for flights to SFO vs. using SWA was simply based on the Aircell GoGo service being available. It didn't matter that the service was free, as I've paid for it before, and would again. The difference is simple. I can get off the plane and have a clean inbox, have read current news, blog posts and tweets, and most of all, relaxed.
Getting off the plane without WiFi during the work week, especially in the month leading up to CES means the volume of email traffic, documents to write, send or review increases. This doesn't change much the first three months of the year when you have on average one trade event a month, a series of meetings, new business pitches and the usual correspondence to sort through. The hour or so in each direction to the Bay Area with WiFi connectivity is a total catch up time. That means when I get to where I'm going, I know most of what needed to be addressed has been. The difference is that instead of factoring in an extra hour or so of working before meetings.
The other factor that has to be realized by airlines without WiFi is that I now reserve those flights for weekends or lower priced later hours. The value add of WiFi for the business traveler equates directly to their bottom line. At the end of the day, I choose my hotels based on broadband, and now, when I can, I choose my flights the same way.