In-flight Wi-Fi doesn’t have to destroy work/life balance

Angus Kidman 15 July 2016


18% of airlines now let you get connected in the air.

Full in-flight Wi-Fi is no longer a rarity. We've just compiled a comprehensive list of
every airline in the world that provides Internet access while you're flying, and there are 72 of them. We're talking full Internet access here, not just using Wi-Fi to stream in-flight entertainment to passenger devices (which both Qantas and Virgin Australia offer on some flights).

Internet access on planes is a divisive topic. For each person who's enthusiastic about the opportunity to get some tasks done or boast to everyone on Twitter "OMG I'm on a plane", there's a naysayer who complains that we shouldn't feel compelled to be connected every second, and that we're ruining our work/life balance as I result.

I find myself oscillating between these camps. I invariably use in-flight Internet if it's offered, which in my case means on domestic flights in the USA. American airlines don't offer much (if anything) in the way of service, so it's not like I'll have to put my laptop away for a meal.

At the same time, I recognise that there's something blissful about boarding a long-haul flight out of Australia and knowing that I'm completely out of the loop. Whatever goes down in the world, someone else is going to have to deal with it. I'll be too busy binge-watching Veep or catching up on my Kindle backlist to care.

Mobile phones mean that the boundaries between when we're "on call" for work are already amorphous. So I sympathise with anyone who would rather not go online during a flight, because if they do they'll just be swamped with more tasks by their boss.

But the simple truth is that technology doesn't create work/life balance issues; you do. If you're not willing to say "no, that will have to wait" or "no, that isn't my responsibility", then you'll always be over-burdened. That was the case even in the pre-Internet era. If you're reading a printed-out report for work on a plane with no Wi-Fi, you're still doing work.

No-one forces you to go online in the air. If the option is there and you want to enjoy it, go ahead. But if you want to sleep or watch movies or read a novel or just daydream, those options are there too. The level of balance you achieve is up to you.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on

Picture: Shutterstock

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