An open letter to Air New Zealand. Re-think Wi-Fi.
Dear Air New Zealand,
I read with horror that you’re rolling out in-flight Wi-Fi.
I know peer pressure is a terrible thing, and there’s no doubt some customers have probably complained that you’re behind the times without internet on board.
But let’s stop to think this through.
You provide one of the last safe havens from the pressures of an always-connected world. The inability to remain switched on is a benefit. It delivers clarity of thought that evades us for weeks at a time when we’re on the ground. It provides peace and calm. It keeps us sane.
I know what you’re thinking: It’s optional, and of course we have the ability to keep our devices switched off. But don’t you get it? We’re weak. Give us the option and we’ll abuse it like a teenager given the house for the weekend and permission to invite ‘a couple’ of friends over for company.
Normalising Wi-Fi on flights will reduce air travel to a simple inconvenience – same as everything else in life, but with smaller chairs and blander food. The respite you provided from the noise, hustle and relentless nature of the modern world will be gone forever, replaced by business people loudly proclaiming their importance through Facetime and Skype. Dom Joly types will emerge everywhere, to tell the world ‘I’M ON A PLANE’. Families will start their long-saved-for holidays in mute co-existence, as children get straight down to the business of instant messaging and wishing they were at home with their mates. Just-sane business folk will feel compelled to remain connected, thereby losing what’s left of their sleep and peace-deprived minds.
Don’t do it, Air New Zealand. Kia kaha.
Resist the urge, and think of your sustainability principles. It’s not in the long-term interests of your business or your home nation to remove the last vestiges of tranquillity available to us. You’ve spent millions optimising the in-flight customer experience, and you’re about to destroy it with the flick of a switch.
I know it’s hard. You’re taking away an intangible, so it’s hard to see what you’re doing. But you’ll see the impact, and by then it will be too late.