In-flight wi-fi is getting a lot more popular, as in popular enough for mass consumption. Unfortunately, that also means airlines are trying to anticipate all the ways wi-fi can be used for evil as much as it can be used to make money. It’s unfortunate because really they have no idea what they’re doing.
Take the case of John Battelle, a happy father on a recent United Airlines flight who just wanted to say goodnight to his kids. He jumped on video chat and was promptly approached by a stewardess who told him that in-flight video chat is illegal. Illegal. Why? The terrorists of course. They could use it to coordinate an attack, you know, since video chat is the only way to communicate in-flight. Email definitely wouldn’t work. Neither would AIM. Twitter. Facebook. Ya know, I’ll stop there. No reason to beat this thing into the ground.
Here’s an excerpt from Battelle’s blog:
So what’s a curious guy to do? To the Internet! Which is exactly what I did. Responses starting pouring in. Including one from a pal at the State Department, who echoed my basic goal: To use video chat to tuck my kids into bed isn’t a crime. Or at least, shouldn’t be.
The flight attendant just showed me the United policy manual which prohibits “two way devices” from communicating with the ground. However, the PLANE HAS WIFI. To combat this, not unlike China, United and other airlines have blocked Skype and other known video chat offenders. Apparently, they missed Apple iChat. Oops.
Oops, indeed. You can bet this will be an ongoing battle between the airlines, our government, and the consumers, most of whom are under the impression that airlines screw them in every way possible.
Source: Battelle Media