WiFi – Why Lie? Are airlines at fault if in-flight WiFi doesn’t work?

wifi connection on airplanes

There is nothing more frustrating as a frequent flyer than choosing a flight for the fact it has WiFi, only to discover that once on board the connection doesn’t work.

But in this instance is the airline liable to give you any compensation?

Unfortunately, even if you have paid more for a flight because it is WiFi enabled, really the airline has no obligation to give you anything. Their solely liable to get you from A to B…so anything else they do is really just a bonus!

However, it never hurts to ask. By explaining your situation and that you paid above what you would normally to be able to work in-flight, then airlines at their own discretion may give you miles as compensation.

So…why does in-flight WiFi suck?

You’d think with all of the innovations we absolutely nail, we would have at least some semi-decent WiFi whilst up in the air, right? But…no.

It is down to Gogo Inc. controlling 70% of the market since around 2008. They cleverly signed all airlines into long-term contracts, but most of the service they provide on flights only allows for 3mgbps. Not exactly great when the average download speed for a page is 20+ mbps.

Whilst there are other providers that have come to the market which could solve this WiFi “crisis” offering faster and less expensive options; the airlines cannot do anything with them until they see through their contracts with Gogo.

For some reason, Gogo just can’t keep up with the pace of technology, despite others being able to. However, they have launched their new 2Ku project, with a promise to make in-flight WiFi speeds twice as fast. But…hardly any aircrafts have been upgraded with the new hardware – so really it is too little too late for Gogo.

Take homes?

Don’t hold your breathe on getting exceptionally great in-flight WiFi anytime soon. If you’ve booked a flight specifically for this, it is unlikely you will be reimbursed at all if it doesn’t work – but it is always worth asking your airline customer support politely. Kindness goes a long way ;).

Maybe, it is good to claim the skies as a work free zone…one of the only times you might get between all your meetings! So, don’t stress too much if you can’t get the WiFi, use the time as a much needed no connectivity zone and relax.