“The WiFi Is Broken”

3 things I learned when the WiFi goes down on a cross-country flight.

October 15, 2015

I’m writing this post from seat 8A of United Airlines flight #1523 direct from Boston (BOS) to San Francisco (SFO).

The inflight WiFi is down.

In fact, it has not worked the entire flight. The captain made the (good) decision to have an on-time departure rather than stay in the gate at Boston to fix the WiFi.

Still, can you imagine 6+ hours stuck in the air without access to the internet? This may be the ultimate First World Problem.

Actually, it hasn’t been all that bad.

Here are some things I’ve discovered from my forced web disconnect:

1. Google Docs Work Great Offline:

I realized that it has been a long time that I’ve tested how well Google Docs works offline. With the ability to tether my laptop to my iPhone I’m almost always able nowadays to get online.

The good news is that Google Docs works great with no connectivity. When going through Chrome (I did not test the other browsers) I was able to open and edit all my documents.  Should this give us greater confidence in making the big switch to all Google Drive productivity apps?  Does good offline access to Google Docs make the Chromebook more appealing?

2. Reading and Answering E-Mail When Offline Is Really Okay:

I don’t know why I assume that e-mail needs constant connectivity. It was actually sort of a pleasure to go through my downloaded Outlook messages with the full confidence that no new messages would come in.

The e-mails that I wrote will send once I land (when I’m connected).  The time gap between writing and sending emails seems fine.

3. Writing Is Easier Without the Lure of the Web and Email:

You can do a lot of writing in 6 hours stuck at 30,000 feet in a metal tube.  I’m really not very good at turning off all possible digital distractors when I write. Those new e-mail messages are just too tempting to read.  Taking breaks check social network feeds is tempting.  All of our information comes from our screens, and that information is always a click away.

On an airplane without WiFi no new information is arriving. The result is greater writing productivity. The obvious solution is to turn off WiFi once I land.  Can you do that?  We all know from those annoying life hackers that we should limit how often we check e-mail or go on Twitter. Whatever. They are better people than I.

How do you respond when the Web goes down?

Why is inflight internet so bad, and so expensive, even when it is working?

Should all cross-country flights be WiFi free by choice?

Are you willing to share your latest First World Problem?



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