I had my first offer of free wifi on a flight today. It was with American Airlines. It sounds great upon announcement. It was free on wifi enabled phones. They had it for laptops but it was $12 for the flight. Many people don't have phones that are great with wifi yet. And you have to be able to turn off the cellular service on your phone. The biggest market is probably the laptop and they will charge you for it. You could do some wifi on your phone like I did and then wish you had it on your laptop. Maybe that gets you to pay. Or test the speed on the phone first and the pay for the laptop. The guy beside me paid the $12, read a couple of New York Times articles and shut it down. Hmmm. Makes me wonder if people will pay for regular internet content after all. Or do they have to be held captive on a plane or in a hotel to do so?
It will be interesting to watch future developments in the market. I think the first airlines to have good wifi and is reliably on all flights would get more business travelers. I know I would look for it. But do they charge for it or offer it as a perk to get those customers? Right now, it is only on certain airplanes with many different airlines. So you never know if you'll have it until you are on the flight.
If you are a business person, productivity can actually be quite high without wifi. You can write up emails, memos, expense reports or articles ahead of time. Work on those spreadsheets or photos. Although the internet opens up things that you can do on your laptop, it also will lead to time wasted on all kinds of websites, email and social media services.