Raise your hand if you’ve seen Snakes on a Plane?
It’s a lovely little movie about an F.B.I Agent, played by the intrepid Samuel L. Jackson, who takes on a plane full of deadly venomous snakes, deliberately released to kill a witness being flown from Honolulu to Los Angeles to testify against a mob boss.
I’m on a lot of planes these days, and while I haven’t encountered any snakes (yet), I have seen my fair share of oddities. I won’t list them all, but of all the weird things that go down while in-flight, the oddest for me, is the reaction to on board WIFI, or lack thereof.
Back in the days of my early business travel, in-flight WIFI was not even a blip on the radar. In order to make the most of the flight, you brought all of your paperwork (yes, actual paper) with you in order review and edit and create. After a while, and the work you brought was done, you would settle in to a good book. Or let’s be honest here, a pile of celebrity weekly magazines.
Now, in-air access to WIFI is viewed as a guaranteed right that comes with the price of the ticket. Heaven help the onboard crew who has to work a flight with a spotty connection. Passengers demand it. They get pissed when it’s not working or worse, going in and out right as you are putting the finishing touches on a lengthy document. You get the sense that at any point, an irritated traveler is going to stand up and shout, “Get this motherloving WIFI, back on this motherloving plane!” Just as Mr. Jackson so famously shouted in the movie. Except he replaced the word WIFI with snakes, and the word motherloving with, well…you know.
I know, because I am frequently one of those irritated travelers.
So, what’s my problem? Helping to run a leading PR agency with four agency offices requires a lot of work. And to be out of commission for 4-to-5 hours prevents me from getting my work done.
Or does it? When WIFI abounds, I’m able to stay on top of my inbox fires. I can access our shared drive to edit presentations or work on new ones. Staying current with emails isn’t really moving much of a mark toward bigger thinking. Making edits on a deck is helpful, but also isn’t exactly rocket science.
As more and more jump online as soon as WIFI becomes available, the connection gets weaker and weaker. So instead of cursing the laws of technology which have lost the battle against the marvel that is air travel, I use the time in flight to get back to what I used to do. I read a book or magazine that informs me about an area of business I’m passionate about and inspires my approach to helping navigate our agency and its clients. I watch a show. I select one like Shark Tank that reminds me how many entrepreneurs are out there creating really cool stuff. I talk to my seatmates. Yes, actual human connection that never ceases to amaze me how similar the challenges of business are, no matter the industry.
And I write blogs. Like this one, which I forgot to do while I was in office. Keeping up on my email.
So never fear wary travelers that you might occasionally not have access to keep up with the Kardashians on Insta while you fly, or send off your kicking Excel budget masterpiece. You’ll be connected soon enough online. My advice, make the most of getting connected IRL while offline.