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Wi-Fi in the Air

As I write this, I’m on Southwest Flight 933 to Los Angeles from Chicago. It seems that Southwest is working towards providing its passengers with Wi-Fi access during flights and this is one of the four planes in their fleet that is equipped with Wi-Fi capabilities.

This begs the question: are Wi-Fi equipped planes necessary and how will they effect us?

My initial thought is that we all have to prepare ourselves for a new in-flight category of Twitter updates….

“@edgalvez is stuck on the tarmac. Friendly skies? Maybe if we ever get off the ground!”

“@joshcheeeneee is annoyed by the $%@#-ing crying baby next to me and the annoying toddler kicking my seat!”

“@pricklyfoam is in mad turbulence, yo.”

“@jamiecampbell79 is eating peanuts and Mountain Dew. I’m not shelling out 7 bucks for a beer. What, you think I’m made of money?”

Wi-Fi planes will also give us the ability to connect with our fellow passengers. I’m in the midst of creating a Facebook group page for Flight #993 where we can all friend each other and keep in touch during the flight.

We can post discussion threads to contemplate important issues like the best looking flight attendant and whether or not that really is the Rocky Mountains out the windows on the left side of the cabin. We might even keep in touch after the flight – checking in with each other every few months and eventually organize a 10-year reunion.

And don’t forget to check out Craigslist: Airline Edition. When you go to the site, just select your airline, flight number and departure city. I heard you’ve been looking for a used copy of Twilight. It just so happens that the college girl in 13B just finished hers and it can be yours for pennies. Pissed that you got crackers instead of Oreos for your snack? Don’t worry, the guy in the emergency exit aisle will happily trade with you.

And what about all those missed connections? We can hook you up before we even land. Southwest and other airlines that jump onto the Wi-Fi bandwagon will be able play matchmaker to a gaggle of people who are too shy to physically approach that out-of-reach passenger. Wi-Fi makes it possible for these lovebirds to get together.

“Me in a middle seat, reading the Skymall catalogue. You struggling to put your carry-on in the overhead bin. If interested, meet me in the latrine at the back of the plane or come by Aisle 28. I’ll be the one wearing the Lakers throwback jersey without any shoes. Don’t forget to bring your oxygen mask because girl, I’m gonna take your breath away.”

Whether or not Southwest’s new amenities will be ground-breaking or go up in flames remains to be seen.

On the one hand, it signifies the loss of something. Airplanes seem like the final frontier when it comes to living off the grid. For an extended period of time, you can sit in solitude, unreachable by friends, family, co-workers, solicitors. But with this upgrade, I remain a slave to the machine . I’ve got the technological capabilities to be connected to everyone at all times but I’ve got no haven where I can just be alone with my thoughts for awhile.

I admit it’s a novelty to be able to connect to the internet from 30,000 feet in the air and if anything, it makes the time go by faster. With all the youtube clips that have been piling up in my “to watch” folder, I’ll never be without something to do on a flight. But then again, maybe sometimes it’s good to just do nothing.

by Tia Ayers

Read more from Tia at or on Twitter at @tiaayers