In-Flight Internet: What It Is and What Are Its Pros and Cons

Technology has revolutionized the way the aviation industry works. It has made flying much more affordable and entertaining for the general public. In-flight internet, the latest buzz amidst frequent flyers, is one such revolutionary feature. In this article, we, at Avlon Shiksha Niketan, will shed light on what in-flight Wi-Fi is and what are its key pros and cons.

30-second summary:

  • Flights use specially installed antennae and satellite connections to provide internet to passengers on board.
  • In-flight internet means no more missing emails while you are flying. You can also access your favorite OTT platforms while flying.
  • However, there are several downsides to the technology like increased costs, security issues, etc.

Think of the times when getting on a plane was more of a ritual than just a way to travel. Air trips used to be planned in advance for months, the luggage used to be weighed carefully so that it didn’t exceed the allowance limit, and reaching the airport way too early had to be the norm. All in all, it was a proud moment to be able to fly!

While some of these things are still pretty much the rule (for instance, arriving three-four hours before time), the overall excitement of getting on a plane (unless you are a newbie) is nothing like it was even a few decades back.

And it isn’t all that bad. It simply means that more and more people are using airplanes today than ever before. It is not only more affordable to buy flight tickets today, but the airline industry has also revolutionized the way people fly. From better airport facilities like self-check-in, lounge access, etc., to in-flight internet access, the aviation industry has surely grown by leaps and bounds.

With all these new developments, there are more frequent flyers today than you could even imagine. The industry supports a massive number of employees, including ground and flight staff. But, as advancement plans roll out progressively, there is a growing need for skilled professionals in the industry. And at the Avlon Shiksha Niketan, one of the most reputed aviation colleges in Kolkata, we take it upon ourselves to help the aspiring minds skill up and be on the fast track to a successful career in the industry.

In this blog, we will discuss the rise of this raging phenomenon called In-Flight Wi-Fi and how it is likely to change the flying experience (for good and for bad). Happy reading! 

The Rise of In-Flight Internet: A Boon or a Bane for Travelers? 

If the Wright Brothers got a chance to fly today, they would be amazed by the impressive milestones we’ve achieved in aviation and how it is so different from the airplane they invented. And we’re pretty sure if they knew about the internet and its hold over humans, they wouldn’t be surprised that even airplanes come with internet connections! Yes, you read that right.

Starting in 2018, the Indian Government and TRAI approved the use of internet services onboard flights in India. But then aren’t you supposed to put your phone connections off or on ‘flight mode’ during flights? After all, every electronic device has a special mode dedicated for flights! Also, how can you receive telecom signals so high up when you can’t get connectivity in most hilly areas? Read on to find out more about in-flight Wi-Fi and how it works.

The Mechanics of In-Flight Internet Services – How it Works

Before going into the technical details, let’s be clear on one thing, you still have to put your electronic devices on flight mode while flying. Nothing changes there. So, how does the internet work? Well, obviously not via your mobile internet provider.

When you put your phone on flight mode, it essentially severs all connections to transmission satellites completely. That means no incoming or outgoing calls, messages, and internet. However, you can still connect to the internet via a Wi-Fi router.

The same thing happens with in-flight internet. The flight operator can provide Wi-Fi to passengers on board in two ways, both of which require installing a physical antenna on the flight (just below the wings). These are:

  • Using land towers – Much like how your mobile internet works, flight antennae connect to the nearest land tower and transmit the signal to the devices on the flight. However, there are certain limitations. This method is not suitable for long-haul flights that fly over vast seas or land without towers, and it doesn’t work well after a certain altitude.

 

  • Using satellites – Just like DTH services, flight antennae pick up signals from satellites instead of directly connecting to land towers. This data then transmits to devices via a flight Wi-Fi router. Since satellites do not depend on geographical locations or altitude, this method is better than using direct towers.

So now that you know why you can’t use your mobile data but can still connect to the in-flight Wi-Fi, let’s move on to the pros and cons of using the technology.

Using In-flight Internet – The Pros

  • You no longer have to wait to de-board to send that urgent email. It is a blessing for frequent flyers who spend more time flying than on land.

 

  • It opens up a world of in-flight entertainment options to make even the longest flight fun.

 

  • You can connect to friends and families and update your travel time or even check up on your kids while flying high up in the sky.

The Basic Cons of the In-flight Internet

  • Setting up the antenna and other infrastructure is an expense that flight operators must bear. This may reflect increased ticket prices as well.

 

  • For most carriers, in-flight internet packages are costly and would add to the cost of flying.

 

  • Those couple of hours on the flight is the only time you can truly get an internet detox. But with Wi-Fi, that seems like a choice no one would want to make.

 

  • The dangers of using public Wi-Fi networks, especially in today’s world of growing cyber threats, is definitely something to worry about.

The world of air travel is changing at an astonishing rate. And with new-age technologies reforming the experience, there is an ever-increasing need for professionals who have the right skills to carry out operations. At Avlon Shiksha Niketan, recognized among the best aviation colleges in Kolkata, our industry-relevant courses on aviation management cover all the latest technologies that are reforming the industry. Join our aviation management program and get empowered to register a bright future for yourself in the evergreen and ever-advancing aviation industry.