Should Free In-Flight Wifi be a First Class Perk?

If you remember WAY back, I wrote about my experience with Gogo Inflight Internet, and seriously, internet makes the difference between a boring flight, and a productive flight. But current internet is prohibitively expensive for its’ speed. A one day pass on Gogo costs  $14. In an age where domestic airlines are trying to differentiate without raising costs, I was wondering

why none of them offered free Wifi fo domestic first class passengers. To research this subject further, I asked some of my favorite travel bloggers, and found some interesting points.

So did they think it should be a perk? Seth Miller of Wandering Aramean, and Steven Frischling of Flying With Fish think so.

 It certainly seems to make sense. It’s inexpensive to give away, valuable to the flyer, and it’s unique. Why give away free drinks when you can give away free internet?

Still, not everyone agrees. Mary Kirby, editor in chief of the Airline Passenger Experience Magazine points out “A consideration, though – if Wi-Fi is free for first class, that’s going to soak up bandwidth for paying passengers”.

As I said, the speeds are limited, and she makes a good point that these planes only have a limited load of bandwidth which 5-12 extra passengers could easily overload. Still, not every first class passenger would utilize it,  and many who do would have bought it anyway, so it’s a tossup. The Weekly Flyer of Points Miles and Martinis pointed out “Some would still need monthly subscription for times in coach”. No one is in first class on every flight. Maybe it could be an elite level benefit?

I think this idea has potential, and I’m going to try and ask a few airlines and explore this further, but it certainly does have some issues. What do you think?

Michael Sitver

Michael Sitver is a technology insider who has been blogging about technology since 2011. Along the way, he's interviewed founders of innovative startups, and executives from fortune 500 companies, and he's tried dozens or hundreds of gadgets. Michael has also contributed to works featured in Newsday, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the associated press. Michael also occasionally consults, and writes for Seeking Alpha and Yahoo News.

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