The age of in-flight Internet connectivity is upon us, with at least one major U.S. carrier coming to this party. Bloomberg has the details:
"American Airlines offers Internet access for $12.95 on 15 Boeing Co. 767-200 jets that make 25 daily flights between New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles or San Francisco, and between New York and Miami."This has been a long time coming, and I am one of the many who support having access to the WWW while on a long cross-country flight. Instead of watching an archived copy of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" for the 12th time – wasting time as the miles pass beneath you – with a serious high-speed broadband connection, you could actually get some work done en route. The functionality of in-flight broadband is enormous, giving passengers the ability to change connecting flights, obtain rental car reservations and make lodging plans when the airline screws up and gets you into the gate too late to catch the last plane home.
But like anything new that involves technology, there are a number of bugs that need to be worked out in this system. My personal peeve is the $12.95 charge American is proposing. That amount is preposterous, it should be free, as all broadband access should be. Whatever the cost is to outfit an existing or new airliner with passenger broadband access, that charge should be amortized over the life of the plane. And making it "free" instead of up-charging for access would go a long ways in the PR department. Even Starbucks has essentially made their broadband free, as have most progressive airports and millions of cafes nationwide.
But while my opinion about the proposed charge is just a pet peeve, it seems the flight attendants who will wander the aisles of Internet-equipped airliners have a much bigger gripe, and it is a valid one:
"Just weeks after American Airline started offering in-flight wireless internet, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants is urging the airline to add filters restricting passengers from browsing porn and other inappropriate sites, according to a Bloomberg story. Many passengers and attendants have reportedly complained about the issue."I have to agree 1,000 percent with the flight attendants. I am not one to normally support any sort of censorship on the Internet, and have no qualms with people looking at online porn as long as it is in their own home or in some other private viewing location. But in the close confines of coach-class flying, there is no room for barelylegalgirlzgonewild.com. I make my case:
"I don't want to sound like a prude here, I have nothing against porn per se. This is a free country, and it is out there to consume, just as cocaine is out there to be snorted. I believe porn is highly addictive, and as one who chooses not to do drugs or drink, I also choose not to look at Internet (or any other) porn. Would I tell a dude on the street what he can look at online, no. But wedged into the middle seat of three-across coach seating with a crusty old geezer just inches away as he whips himself (hopefully not literally) into an erotic frenzy by grazing in some porn cesspool is simply unacceptable. Then, if the slut-like nymph on the other side of me sees the first dude's porn and starts watching something that get's her off, it is easy to see how the situation could deteriorate rapidly into...well, let's not even go there."There are filters out there that are very good at limiting what a broadband network's users can access. They are not 100% flawless, but are close enough to eliminate porn for those seeking to view it on an airline system. The day when the U.S. carriers figures this all out cannot come soon enough for me. Then – after in-flight broadband has been perfected, someone can start Porn-oh! Airlines, with full access to even the most disgusting things out there on the web. I can't even begin to imagine what the flight attendants on that line would be wearing...or not.