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Free WiFi

Many airports (O’Hare) don’t have free wifi still. I imagine the original justification goes like this:

We have a captive audience, so if we charge them for wifi, we can make a profit!

Sounds great, except that most of us scoff at the concept of paying for wifi at airports, since we try not to spend a lot of time in them, and at least at a coffee shop, you get a good cup of coffee instead of marked up to the gills crap. So why don’t they go free now?

We’ve had wifi for a couple years, but clearly no one uses it since we’re not making the profit we expected. Why would we go free for something no one uses?

It’s not that I think wifi must be free, but I think that given the cost (and we all know what it costs, we all pay for internet), there’s not as much reason to charge as much as they do for it. Now if they said “Donate $5 to use our wifi, and we’ll use the money for diaster relief…” you’d probably get more people paying, instead of figuring out where to sit to scoop free WiFi.

As for planes themselves, I think they could take a page from Japan’s trains. You enter in your seat number and the code on your ticket (which is different for every train), and you get Wifi. Since planes have your names anyway, they could go one level up and require seat number, code, name (or FF number). Then if you have X number of miles, are seated in an exit row, or paid for a seat upgrade, you get free wifi. Or if you charged at ticket purchase “For an extra $2, you can have wifi…”

Anyway, I’ll be flying through DFW for a while now, since they do have free-wifi.