With the COVID 19 outbreak, the US is restricting traveling and Japan enforces 2 weeks of self-quarantine after returning from a foreign country. Hearing this news, last week I managed to get a flight back to Japan from SCE to NGO, and successfully made it back. My flight from Detroit to Narita was 13 hours, and with flights this long it makes me depressed just sitting there in discomfort. I killed time watching movies while texting!! I was shocked when I knew they provide free SMS texting on board. This was the first time my flight had this, and it is amazing to think that they make wifi possible miles above the ground, especially when they fly over the nothingness of Alaska and Siberia. Though many of you wouldn’t be flying anytime soon with the situation we are in, I would like you to try this next time. This made me wonder about how technology is changing our flight experiences and what the future waits to bring. Letting my curiosity take me forward, I found an article on how they make internet connection possible on board.
There are two ways in which this is possible, the “air to ground” method and the satellite-based system. The air to ground system works similar to 4G LTE on the ground, where the mobile towers for people on the ground send signals downwards, the onboard wifi towers send them upwards. The second method is quite obvious from the name, they receive signals from satellites flying above the plane. Because my flight went over the ocean for the most part and also flew over northern Russia, Canada and Alaska, I would say they utilized the satellite method for the most part. Right now, I will need to pay around 10 – 60 dollars to get access to stronger Wifi for browsing the internet and so on, I feel like there will soon come a day where I can do this for much cheaper or even for free. I think that this is similar to how we started getting free wifi almost anywhere in large cities and public institutions. Along with this, I think that airplanes will start to become faster, making the entire idea of air travel less of a special occasion to us. I hope that more changes will come drastically changing the experience miles above.