When the Wright Brothers were busy inventing airplanes, they would have been blown away if you told them that one day, not only would their new way of traveling be routine, but that passengers would use these little hand-held computers on the planes to communicate with people on the ground.
After years of being unable to use our smartphones on an airplane and having to rely on those spendy phones that attach to the seats in front of us to make a call — if they were even available — we are now able to use our smartphones during flights. Since October 3, 2013, the use of handheld devices like smartphones and tablets is allowed on flights, as long as they are in airplane mode. You still have to wait for the pilot to announce that it’s safe to connect to an in-flight network.
There are a number of reasons that texting on an airplane is a positive thing. First, sending texts to people back on Earth — be it your boss, neighbor, BFF or spouse — is much quieter than trying to make a cell phone call on a noisy plane. If you are fighting a headache and are trying to nap on a plane, having a seatmate use texting to communicate silently is definitely good. Second, for people who are nervous while on a flight, spending some time texting a close and supportive friend back home may help ease their anxieties and help to pass the time. In addition, if you suddenly remember you forgot to tell your pet sitter something important or you need to let a co-worker know about a key piece of a project you are working on, you can set your mind at ease and send a quick message while flying and not have to worry about it or wait until you land. Another plus for texting while flying is if you are traveling with your spouse and/or family but end up sitting apart. If you want to tell your family members that you should all meet at baggage claim if you get separated or merely check in with your teenager or significant other, you can do so without having to crawl over other passengers.
The main drawback to texting while sitting in a chair 35,000 feet above ground is cost; Gogo allows airline passengers to purchase Wi-Fi for $49.95 a month, which is handy if you fly frequently, or $59.95 a month for their multi-airline plan. You can also purchase a one-hour pass for $7.00 or an all-day pass for $19, which is not too bad if you are flying solo, but if you have a family of six and you want to text all day during multiple flights, it becomes a lot more expensive. Fortunately, if you are a T-Mobile customer you will have access to free in-flight Wi-Fi for an hour, plus unlimited in flight texting, picture messaging and access to visual voice mail. As long as your flight is equipped with Gogo, you will be able to text in the air to your heart’s content. Instructions on how to access in-flight texting are on the T-Mobile website; you need to have a valid E911 address on file and a T-Mobile phone number and make one Wi-Fi call prior to boarding. If you are unsure of how this will work, you can give T-Mobile a call prior to your trip to go over the process.
Overall, in-flight texting seems to come with many more positives than negatives. Traveling can be stressful enough, but knowing you can stay in touch with people while in the air can help to set your mind at ease and make the flight more enjoyable.