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In Flight Productivity - a coach passenger's inconvenience

Update: originally posted in Spring of 2011, a recent trip to a conference in Austin reminded me of just how physically incongruent with how airlines think passengers are built i am, so i decided to republish this post. enjoy.

I remember reading science fiction books as a child and being absolutely amazed at the theoretical level of connectivity we would experience in the future. Being able to be anywhere and still be connected to our stream of media seemed like such an awesome concept. Then, on the plane ride back to Seattle from Washinton, DC they tell us that our plane has in-flight wifi.
Photo evidence of my experience
"Spectacular!" I say to myself, thinking I'll be able to let my wife know that I'm okay, that I miss her, and pre-edit some posts about the conference I just attended as I let the overwhelming amount of information and inspiration I encountered ruminate in my brain. The reality of the situation was quite the opposite of the utopia I had imagined as a child. It wasn't so much a failure of the technology, though, there is no way I needed to be responding to email SO badly i was going to pay $12 an hour for it. The truth was in the workspace allotted. I don't carry a large laptop. It's actually considered to be just smaller than average. And speaking of averages, by the statistics of the average size of the population currently, I'm about on par. Though, plane seats obviously haven't been redesigned since the 1950's when the only fast food joint widely available to the masses was McDonald's and they just proceeded to pack more of these seats into the same amount of space in an airplane that also hasn't been redesigned since the last century. With the young lady in front of me, enjoying the half an inch she gained by reclining her seat, i was attempting to work from my laptop and had to make a life and death decision as to whether i wanted to be able to see my screen at it's optimum and fully open angle, thereby accepting that i would have to commit seppuku to allow for the tray to be slid out and into the void created, OR do as i decided to (for fear of making a mess) leave it at about a 75 degree angle and hunker my shoulders down and crane my neck to see the screen as best i could. Let's also mention, the arm position at which I had to type without basically "throwing elbows" into the neck or chest of the passenger next to me. I have deemed it the T-Rex tiny arms posture and it worked for about four minutes, until I hit my funny bone on the arm rest i was attempting to stay within the boundaries of. Needless to say, this was not the best experience and in the end I opted to just wait until I got home to use the internet. I don't know if the airline or the company powering the wireless technology quite gets that just offering up the access won't be a cure for the greater problems of staying connected while traveling.


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