See if this sounds familiar:
Hi there – where are you?
Somewhere over the Pacific…
You are on a flight? You’re bored aren’t you?
The era of connectivity during flight is upon us (although granted, not on all flights or on all airlines – yet!) No longer do you have to scramble to send that last final email or instant message before stepping into the black hole that will allow others to make decisions and complete projects without your, obviously invaluable, input or oversight.
No longer do you have to sit at 35,000 feet wondering if there is going to be a crisis or disaster waiting for you at the other end. Okay, so most of us who are in our right minds don’t worry about this incessantly but I do know that, if you are at the pointy end of a deadline, it will be in your thought processes somewhere. Let’s face it, there is always something that was not quite resolved by the time the final boarding announcement was called.
So in-flight WiFi is fabulous, right? We’re now saved from our paranoid minds coming up with scenarios that were never likely to happen because our brains make things up when we do not have line of sight to what is going on (and those stories are usually more ‘far out’ than reality).
Goodbye to Personal Time?
Here’s the thing: I used to look forward to my flying time and one of the main reasons for that is that it allowed me to be completely disconnected without having to feel guilty. It used to be the one place, in this modern day and age, where I didn’t have to feel bad for not wanting to look at my email on a regular basis. It was the one place where I could read a book or watch a movie and not actually feel that opportunity cost of the time spent (unless you should have been sleeping!).
And then, of course, there is the scenario at the beginning of this blog post where I’ve found myself ‘babysitting’ others who are in the air while I am on the ground. Not to be misunderstood – if I am not available then I am not prepared to ‘talk’ but I do find it an interesting phenomenon that you can now utilize a wider network to keep you amused when you are unable to sleep on a flight and you have exhausted all your TV options.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop Working
At the moment, all this is down to choice (or availability). If you are on a flight, do you want to connect? Do you want to pay the rates that are being charged (I am sure those will decrease over time)? You still have the capacity to decide that to be in a communication ‘blackout’ if you want to. What happens, however, when this inflight connectivity becomes ubiquitous (rather like inflight entertainment choices)? What happens when the unspoken ‘expectation’ is that you will remain connected, even while speeding across time zones? Where are the travel policies on this issue at the moment?
One of my previous CEOs was an early adopter of this technology and it was a running joke that you could always tell when he was in the air as that was when the emails started. For someone who is very time-constrained when he’s on the ground, I can absolutely see the advantages of being able to take this creative space and turn it into productive output. However, from a selfish perspective, I am likely to continue to mourn the fact that it looks like I am about to lose one of the final places where I can truly have ‘me time’ for just a little bit longer.
What say you?
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Rachael Fitzpatrick is an ‘accidental’ traveller who has lived outside of her native Australia for over 20 years. She likes driving and has driven through places such as India, Vietnam, Peru and Iceland.