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Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I have been flying a lot for work lately. It is less than I was flying about a year ago, but still a lot. Long flights out to the West Coast, which are tough given they usually leave around 5:30am EST from Dulles, and after a connection in Chicago or Denver, land in Oakland around 11am PST. I wake up a little after 3am to get ready and make it to Dulles in time. By the time I rent my car, get my luggage, and drive to the offices in San Mateo, I have been up and going for almost 13 hours. It makes for a long day.

Anyway, I have come to the conclusion that we really need to get on the ball as it relates to internet access on airplanes. I realize there are companies out there working on this, but I really have no clue why we have not seen some early versions of this being offered on planes. The closest is Verizon’s airphone, which charges you an arm and a leg to just check email. If there is a concern that the lack of adoption of this service is a sign of demand for net access on planes, I think we are in trouble.

The airlines need to start innovating. Every plane I am on these days is sold out. The airports are crowded and there are more people traveling than ever before. Why are the airlines still losing money? Because they are not innovating, they need to find compelling services that people would pay for on the plane. For example, if you offered wireless net access on the plane for $15.95 per trip, I am sure you would make a good dime on top of the ticket prices.

For business travelers they would pay extra to fly on a plane that offered internet access via wi-fi or other technology. This delay can’t be due to the installation as with wi-fi you don’t need much. The delay cant be due to concerns over the signal interfering with the plane, since JetBlue offers DirectTV and this is not a concern. Even Air Force One has internet access on the plane and they are not too worried about the President.

Anyway, I think the airlines need to start looking at what is important. Offering cell phone services, wi-fi, on-demand programming, satellite radio, video conferencing services, play areas for kids, etc… We need these guys to think out of the box, and that does not mean how to offer a meal for 5.00 in a box or how to do a promotion for frequent flyers. I need my Internet Access, please United!

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