Who moved my mobile? the e-traveller in the air

Business Lounge A380
Image by Dramagirl via Flickr

Day 1 Wednesday: sitting on board the ‘Nancy-Bird Walton’  on the tarmac at Sydney International – that’s the real NB-W pioneer Aussie flyer in the picture – and there’s an announcement from the Captain who declares a ‘short’ delay, an engineering ‘issue’ (anxiety potential here but glad to hear someone was taking it seriously). Half an hour later he’s back with further delays because the ATC (Air Traffic Control Centre) in Brisbane … which controls all flights in and out of eastern Australia … had decided to pack it in. Cocooned in the luxury of the QANTAS Airbus A380 Business Class Cabin, we were not all THAT concerned unless it meant being extracted for a possible overnighter in Sydney with the resultant loss of connections and the fun of the ride in what is surely a gorgeous plane. What seemed like ages later … it was actually 3 hours … we took off, but not before I had got the word out via Twitter to a couple of journo friends about the ATC debacle (is that the right word for tech breakdown?). I felt very impressed starting out my 140 characters with the journalistic ‘Breaking’. I wonder was I the first? In any case, we were up and away soon enough.

Whilst the A380 has all the potential for mid-air comms via your own laptop centre, they are still not functional in the seat consoles. USB connections to power up the phone, the computer, the iPod are all in place but ‘dead.’ That was disappointing. On a later flight from Los Angeles to New York I could have purchased internet access for the flight from a commercial third party. A chirpy sales person handed me a 25% discount voucher as I stood defenceless (shoes off) in line at LAX to be security screened. BTW, even celebrities suffer this necessary indignity; one line over from me Angelica Huston was taking it all like a good sport … well you have to don’t you. But back to web access, on QANTAS I was told that internet access in flight would eventuate, but that it as a matter of ‘licenses’ being obtained. Really? What licenses? Can anyone enlighten me here?

Whilst I had Tweeted, SMS-ed, and mailed from my iPhone as I waited back in Sydney for the flight to leave, I was effectively incommunicado during the long haul up to Los Angeles … 14 hours all up. There was so much I wanted to share possibly via Twitter of this experience … and I use the word advisedly. The cabin crew were solicitous at all times and before dinner asked whether we’d like the express meal or the ‘full dining experience’ … yes please. I was glad I did. The food was truly excellent. But for long hauls it’s the space that matters and the ease with which you can move a cramped body around the space allocated to you.

Now I’m conscious I’m talking what has to be the top end of the service here as I travelled Business (on points by the way … I’m not that flush), but the difference between the Air Bus A380 Business allocation and that of Business Class in other aircraft is considerable. Flat beds are what they say they are; you can stretch right out. The lambswool blanket and the real pillow make it easy to get sleep when you need to. There is plenty enough to distract if you don’t want to sleep. There’s a nicely lit lounge bar where you can sit back on smart redleather couches and watch tv, read, and help yourself, or be served from the bar which stocks a range of drinks and snacks. By the way the sky cam is terrific; I watched the sun come up this way … it was magnificent. And I have to say that the entertainment system is awesome. It’s the best sound and vision from one of those individual pop-up screens, that I’ve ever experienced. I usually hate seeing movies in flight; it’s the worst way to appreciate them. This time I was resentful that I hadn’t enough time to scratch the surface of the library of goodies. Just to give you an indication of the range, there’s an entire section called ‘Oscar Winners’ with 39 movies for your delectation … and that’s just the beginning. The music catalogue is equally fantastic, headphones are excellent and the audio is perfect.

It’s probably no bad thing that we are divorced from our own tech toys for a little while. However, many of us are becoming dependent upon them for communication, and when they’re not there we have to turn to … for heaven’s sake … pen and paper. What will we think of next?


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2 responses to “Who moved my mobile? the e-traveller in the air”

  1. Howard Avatar

    As trends grow I’m afraid of how dependent we will become. I went to a different country with no running water for two months and found that it wasn’t that hard to live with a cell phone. 8 months later, I’m more attached than ever. The trend seems to be tipping more and more as connectivity becomes as common as the remote control. Going to be crazy!

  2. Sue Hickton Avatar

    LOL great post Kate

    and I feel your pain of disconnection during the flight. It is absolutely no fun – I always feel like I have had my right arm cut off or something, even for the haul across Oz (next weekend for me again too /sob)

    Cheers Sue

    Sue Hickton’s last blog post..Recycling & modernising my learning…unexpectedly through the TAA

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