I’m usually very good at keeping up with my gear. To date I’ve never lost a phone, iPod, camera or other portable electronic piece of gear. However, last week I had a couple of close calls and both were quickly solved with the free Find my iPhone app by Apple. Don’t let the name fool you. “Find my iPhone” isn’t just limited to finding lost/stolen iPhones. It can find just about any piece of Apple gear that’s equipped with WiFi, Bluetooth or Cellular.
I almost lost an AirPod
I remember when I got my AirPods at the beginning of the year, the number one question/concern people asked me was “aren’t you afraid of losing them?” I wasn’t afraid of losing them at all. They fit snuggly enough in my ears not to fall out on their own and whenever I’m not using them I return them to the charging case. However, I almost lost one last week in a weird way:
I’m headed back to Atlanta from Amsterdam today. The flight time is just over 9 hours. I did my usual downloads from my TiVo DVR the night before so that I would have some shows to watch and of course I have my MacBook Pro so that I can get some writing done. The last thing I expected on this Delta flight was to have WiFi internet all the way home! Sure I get my hopes up each time I board an international flight by looking for the familiar WiFi stickers found on 99% of all Delta domestic flights and like always there were no stickers present on this flight. However, once we got up to 10,000 feet I noticed that my phone was asking me to login to my corporate IPASS account (a roaming partner of Gogo). I just figured someone on the plane was faking a Gogo hotspot. However, it worked! I was blown away because I figured I wouldn’t see this until at least 2016. I asked the flight attendant just to make sure and she confirmed that “some” planes have it now and that we were “lucky” today. Lucky indeed!
So what does it cost to enjoy this international benefit? Since I have a corporate plan from work that covers Gogo InFlight WiFi I didn’t even think that about a cost difference at first, but as I started writing this I figured my readers would want to know. I went back to the regular logon page and the prices are high indeed. $19.95 for one hour and $39.95 for the whole flight. While I appreciate this being a work perk, I gotta say that I would gladly pay $39.95 for WiFi on this 9 hour flight. The amount of stuff that I can get done (including this blog post) is worth it to me. The next question is how fast is it? Gogo inlfight wifi in the states uses a celluar system (plane to ground) and from I can see it’s based on 3G technology. When it first came out the speeds were decent, but lately they have been slow to almost unusable. Still slow is better than nothing, so I use it all the time.
Since connecting to the ground over the ocean is not feasible, any plane offering international service requires satellite connections instead. One of the first thing I did was run 4 consecutive speed tests to get an average speed and while it’s not screaming fast, it’s faster than the domestic service. I’ll take it!
The Bottom Line
I remember wishing for WiFi on long haul flights for years. It almost brings a tear to my eyes to see it finally making its way into my life and I commend Delta for making these investments to make air travel a little less painful.
While this combination has worked great for me and my travels all over the world, it looks like I'm going to have to give up my Skooba rollerbag for now. The bag is great. The problem is having less space under the seat in front of me these days. Delta Airlines (I live in a hub city) has given us a mixed blessing. On the one hand I applaud them and THANK Delta for the swift move to outfitting the vast majority of their domestic fleet with Gogo inflight Wi-Fi. I use it all the time when I fly domestically and now I pretty much expect to see it when I board my flight. While this is great, Delta has also been busy upgrading their fleet with an in-flight entertainment system. This upgrade hasn't been getting much press and even Delta seems to be pretty quiet about it.
The new system gives each passenger an LCD on the seatback in front of them and access to movies, TV shows, satellite TV, music, games, etc. AWESOME! Great, what's the downside? The downside to this upgrade is that the electronics for this system at each seat is being housed under the seat itself, significantly reducing the storage space under the seat for carryons. With my last few flights I've had to resort to putting both of my bags in the overhead bin because my laptop bag simply just won't fit under the seat anymore. So far I haven't been yelled at. However, I want to be fair to my fellow passengers and put my second bag under the seat as everyone should. Unfortunately for me this means going with a smaller bag.
Time for a NEW Skooba TSA Friendly Bag!
Luckily Skooba does make a smaller TSA Friendly Laptop case. I swore I would never carry a shoulder bag again. I still don't want to and the good news is this bag is designed to slip over the handle of your rollerbag. You can still carry it with the supplied shoulder strap or the built-in handle. Although this bag is about half as thick as the Skooba rollerbag, I should still be able to carry my usual amount of gear give or take a DSLR body/lens.
The beauty of these bags is NOT having to take your laptop out when going through a TSA checkpoint. I could never go back now after zipping right through for a year!