Technology is constantly changing the travel landscape.
While it may seem like a dream come true to be able to surf the net on a long flight, it can quickly become a nightmare if you aren’t paying attention. There have been horror stories of bills exceeding a thousand dollars for a single flight.
The most important thing to understand is that bandwidth on a plane with the current technology and infrastructure is extremely limited. The current standard is about about 3 megabits per second, less than any one person’s computer, tablet or phone would clock down on land. Sharing this among an entire plane simply means there is not enough for everyone.
Increasing demand for access, coupled with limited bandwidth results in inflated prices. Services have moved away from daily passes to offer hourly rates. Airlines sometimes charge by the amount of data used, and like a cell phone data plan, prices for going over your allotment can be astronomical.
Be aware of what you are being charged for (time vs amount of bandwidth) and keep careful track to avoid an unexpected bill. If being billed hourly, log out a little before your hour is up to avoid paying for another whole block. If being charged by the amount of data, avail yourself of the included tracking and keep a watchful eye on how much you have used so far as it may surprise you.
NOTE: Watch for programs running in the background that may use data even in a passive state. Log out of cloud sharing services and apps, and check for other data-eating features on your device.
Parents should make sure they are aware of the devices their children are using and check settings. Some games, e-books, videos and more can be safely used in off-line versions while in flight. Others stream content and may result in data fees. Be aware of what your children are doing, inform them of how much it costs and why they need to pay attention.
Some airports offer free WiFi to the public, and if work can be done before a flight or on a layover, you may be better off.
Be aware of what you’re walking into and in-air WiFi won’t be a hassle on your next flight.