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Working smarter with in-flight Wi-Fi

Working Smarter With In-Flight Wi-Fi

Reading time: 4 minutes
Back in the “old” days, doing work on the plane during a business trip was easier said than done. Sure, you had a whole hour or more with nothing better to do than log some billable hours and shorten your to-do list. But without access to your phone or the internet, there were major limits on what you could actually accomplish.
Thanks to the in-flight Wi-Fi now provided by most—if not all—major airlines, your workday doesn't have to be disrupted just because you need to travel. Gone are the days of powering-off all wireless devices during your time in the friendly skies. Thanks to embargoes being lifted on cellphone and wireless device use, the once-common “Please turn off and put away all electronic devices” announcement no longer applies in many cases. Now, smaller technology like smartphones and tablets can be put to use in “airplane mode” during Wi-Fi-equipped planes on the flight at the airline's discretion. [1] And, with the FCC freeing up more bandwidth for air travelers, issues like sluggish speeds and high user fees are improving. [2]

Pro tips for using in-flight Wi-Fi

While in-flight Wi-Fi is faster and more accessible than ever before, there are still a few tricks that frequent business flyers employ to get the most out of their connections. Here are our top tips for taking advantage of in-flight Wi-Fi on your next trip.
1. Plan ahead. Before you travel, find out if the plane you'll be flying on is equipped with Wi-Fi. While you're waiting at the gate, be sure to take advantage of the (sometimes) free airport Wi-Fi to download any items you'll need to work on during the flight. That way, you won't have to pay for extra in-flight Wi-Fi time to download items you could've downloaded before boarding.
2. Think economically. If you have multiple flights within a 1-day period, buy a 24-hour or “per day” Wi-Fi pass instead of buying access by the hour. It could pay off, even for short 1-2 hour flights. Not sure how long your flight will take? You can check here to find average travel times by flight. [3]
3. Pack some power. With all of the excitement over in-flight connectivity, it's easy to forget about the important things, like making sure you have a device with some serious battery life. For notebooks, consider investing in extended battery power. And while some planes are now equipped with onboard power outlets, they are still far from standard so make sure to charge up while you're in the airport.
4. Stay secure. Data security is always important, even at 30,000 feet. With safety measures like fingerprint authentication, or new security features on HP Windows 10 PCs like Windows Hello, Passport, and Enterprise Data protection, you can be confident that your data is kept safe—even when you leave your device on your seat while you run to the bathroom.
5. Sky-high support. Having IT issues in the air? Don't forget that services like HP Helpdesk are still within reach. As long as you have a Wi-Fi connection, you can get help. Wondering why your device doesn't immediately connect to the internet? Remember that many in-flight internet services require you to agree to the terms of service first. Open a browser window, and an authorization page should load automatically.
6. Opt for offline. Since the Wi-Fi connection may cut in and out during your flight, it's a good idea to work offline as much as possible (for example, save a Word doc to your computer instead of accessing a remote server connection). That way you'll be less likely to lose work or have to stop and wait until the connection comes back. Interrupted connections can also corrupt files that are being transferred, so save local backups whenever possible.

The downside

So, now it's easier than ever to be just as productive in the air as on the ground—great news, right? Not for everyone. The recent abundance of in-flight Wi-Fi availability has some weary business travelers wondering, “Can we ever relax?” For some, the lack of an excuse to unplug makes business travel less appealing. But for many, the opposite is true. 66% of passengers say Wi-Fi access influences their flight choice, and almost one in five have switched carriers to get better Wi-Fi service.[4]

The sky's the limit

There are still more improvements in store for in-flight Wi-Fi. Better reliability, faster speeds, and reduced user fees will most likely be the results of satellite-based Wi-Fi and innovative initiatives by Google and SpaceX. And while not everyone is in favor of constant connectivity, one thing's for certain—it's something we'll need to get used to.
[3] Based on data from the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The analysis includes U.S. airports that have at least one scheduled route at least every other day. See more information here.
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