Will Self-Control Work For In-Flight Internet Access?

from the are-people-trustworthy? dept

With in-flight internet access getting closer and closer to reality for many airlines, there are still plenty of questions about etiquette and acceptable behaviors. Some airlines are purposely setting up content filters and blocking the use of VoIP (as much as possible, since it's possible to get around most blocks), but as Broadband Reports points out, some believe that people will self-regulate, in most cases. People surfing porn at open WiFi hotspots hasn't been a huge issue, because people know that others are around and so they have enough self-control. The same should be true on airplanes. And while we all know people who are oblivious to how rude it is to hold a loud mobile phone conversation in public, a few reminders and social cues may be enough to keep that from being a serious problem in the air. There will be exceptions -- but is trying to eliminate those few exceptions worth having a near total ban on certain activities?

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 12th, 2008 @ 7:47am

    I don't understand why would there be a problem...

    Just have signs and make announcements that any form of voice communiation over a network (cellular or internet) is prohibited during flight.

    ...Just like we currently make announcements about no smoking on a flight.

    Then there is no issue of self-regulation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Greg, May 12th, 2008 @ 7:48am

    Just have the pilot tell everyone that the WiFi uses the same connection as their air-traffic control systems, and that if they use bandwidth-intensive apps, like VoIP, they'll saturate the network and the plane will fall out of the sky.

    That'd keep me off the phone, anyway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    some old guy, May 12th, 2008 @ 7:49am

    why would that be even desired, let alone necessary?

    Seriously, why is there even a question? don't try to prevent people from doing something that is benign, and you won't have to worry about trying to pressure them into follow useless draconian rules.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    JB, May 12th, 2008 @ 8:18am

    Flying Foul

    Read This article before you conclude that people will self-regulate with regard to surfing porn on an airplane.

    Be very careful when you stick your hand into that seat-back pocket!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Porn???, May 12th, 2008 @ 8:22am


    So, you're telling me they have the porn on the internet?
    Yipeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeee
    eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Griffon, May 12th, 2008 @ 8:24am

    just like the theater...

    They run all those cute trailers before a movie to try and get people to not be jackasses with their phones. Yet I can't recall the last time I was at movies and a half dozen phones didn't go off. Then there are the occasional people who actually 'answer' them during the movie. So much for social pressure keeping order, people just don't care these days, and voip on the phones might be worse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Andrewjh, May 12th, 2008 @ 8:35am

    Works on the bus

    I recently took BoltBus (new low-fare service that includes wi-fi) from Boston to NY and back, and I thought I'd have issues similar to those discussed in the original post. The thing is, people seemed to respect the driver's request that they keep cell phone conversations to a minimum and limit their internet activities so that all could make use of the limited bandwidth.
    I think the thing about courtesy in a space as confined as a bus or plane is that it's different than in movie theaters or restaurants - there's really nowhere to go, and if you're found doing something that's really annoying to those around you, there's really no way to get away with it. Self-control may not work on planes in all cases, but group-policing or a sort of hyper-local neighborhood watch will...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Sean, May 12th, 2008 @ 8:41am

    Meeting nice Mr. Taser

    It'll be just like drinking - there'll always be a certain number of stupid people who abuse the situation, and then a polite air attendant will have a word and ask them to modify their behaviour, and any failure to do so will result in a ground-side meeting with Mr. Taser and Mrs. Pepperspray, followed by relaxing break in the county spiritual retreat, allowing them to reasess their life-choices... And that's how it should be.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    saleh, May 12th, 2008 @ 8:42am

    People already self regulate porn watching, but rudeness is another matter

    I fly 100,000+ miles a year, and have never seen anyone watching porn on their laptop or looking at dirty magazines in-flight. I would imagine that any discerning porn aficionado would have some socked away on their hard drive, and this would already be a problem if not for social pressure.

    Per JB's comment, I do see many passengers who are rude and/or filthy, and expect the flight crew to be their personal servants. I would imagine that bad behavior would be the norm if reasonably priced in-flight phone service were available.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    nipseyrussell, May 12th, 2008 @ 8:52am

    i (and everyone else) have 100% capability to view pron on the airplane now: dirty magazines are easily obtained in the airport and my laptop has quite a large harddrive. i dont take advantage of that "capability" and have never seen anyone else do so. why would you think things would change simply because the internet is available during that few hours of flight time????

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Randy Hill, May 12th, 2008 @ 9:01am

    I don't have a lot of faith in people's ability to control themselves on a plane. I predict that this will become a big problem for airlines in just a short amount of time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 12th, 2008 @ 9:08am

    Won't the attendants come over to ask people to stop, and probably have the ability to cut off access to individual seats?

    I don't see this being a big issue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    Dan Zee (profile), May 12th, 2008 @ 9:16am

    No Free Phone Calls

    Well, VOIP should use less bandwidth than people downloading files, so are the airlines really trying to ban free phone calls from the air so they can push their more expensive in-flight phone services?

    Maybe they could develop a little network monitor app that shows the amount of bandwidth being used, so if there aren't too many people using the connection, you could sneak in a quick phone call or download a file.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    bubba, May 12th, 2008 @ 9:21am

    your kids

    if your kids bother me i will be watching two girls one cup....well i wont be watching but i will make sure they can see it...

    well no...i'd probably go to jail for that...how about faces of death?

    your kids suck...:)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Jake, May 12th, 2008 @ 9:32am

    Re: No Free Phone Calls

    I think the limited phone call thing is an issue more because they don't want the noise of several people talking on the plane and disturbing other passengers, rather than it being a problem with bandwith usage. Imagine if even 20 passengers were conversing on their phones at once; it would be hell. Therefore, it must be limited.

    Some people DO have plenty of self-control. The majority do not (at least from my experiences in planes, theaters, and other public places).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 12th, 2008 @ 9:41am


    laptop + wifi + bathroom == huge line up for everyone else while you wank :(

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Solburn, May 12th, 2008 @ 10:48am

    Re: just like the theater...

    Which is why I no longer go to movie theaters any more. My home experience on my HDTV, audio system, and recliner are way better. And yes I have to wait for the movie to come out, but I'm OK with that.

    Theaters will have to do a better job at making the movie experience better before I spend any money with them (like Beowulf on IMAX 3D).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    re: nipseyrussell, May 12th, 2008 @ 11:00am

    People don't need the internet

    I agree, porn doesn't need to be on the "innernet" and there are many other avenues that the needy could have been using all along for that (and some might even get more excited when they know others can see what they are looking at)...people have been carrying portable DVD players and MP3 players for a long time and I find it highly annoying enough to listen to someone watch a movie with headphones on and laugh out loud or sing with their music while I am trying to nap in the seat next to them. At least emailing is usually quiet, and a little common sense on the phone calls is a good plan. Use instant messaging!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Glenn Fleishman, May 12th, 2008 @ 12:28pm

    Old article

    This article ran on the AP wire in Dec. 2007; was just picked up in Kansas City last week.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    Mike (profile), May 12th, 2008 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Old article

    This article ran on the AP wire in Dec. 2007; was just picked up in Kansas City last week.

    Weird. Oh well. Points are still worth discussing. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Attorney Douglas Palaschak, May 15th, 2008 @ 11:16am

    Now the airlines are planning censorship.

    The airlines are so annoying. Now they plan to censor the internet access that they plan to provide.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    anne, May 16th, 2008 @ 9:12pm

    In the original news story, there's mention of what happens when the yahoo in front of you decides to recline their seat as far back as it will go, and your laptop is on the fold-down tray? As far back as 1990, I recall telling a woman with three children sitting in front of me on a red-eye from DC to LA that if her little darlings continued playing with the seat controls, she could buy me a new laptop, because the monsters kept tilting the seats back and forth.

    I had asked her nicely several times and she just ignored me, so the last time I asked, it was in a very loud voice, and it worked. She took control of her kids and they stopped playing with the seats. Today I wouldn't dare to get so loud on an airplane, with the Nazi attitude of flight crews.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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