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New In-Flight Wi-Fi Raises Etiquette Questions

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July 15, 2009

New In-Flight Wi-Fi Raises Etiquette Questions

ST. PAUL, Minn., July 15  — In-flight Wi-Fi will be available on almost 1,000 planes flying over North America by the end of 2009(1).

While there is heated debate over the pros and cons of web access when flying, a recent survey commissioned by 3M Privacy Filters found that 80 percent of business travelers like the idea of in-flight Wi-Fi because it allows them to get work done(2).

As in-flight Wi-Fi becomes even more common, a whole new set of travel etiquette issues could arise.

Business travel expert Chris McGinnis offers the following etiquette advice to keep travelers and their seatmates on good terms when using this new in-flight amenity:

* Enjoy the view without the glare. While you may enjoy the view from your window seat, be aware that your seatmate may be using the time to catch up on some work or watch a movie on his or her laptop. Since the glare from the window makes it difficult to view computer screens, ask if the glare is a problem and then agree to a happy medium.

* Beware of prying eyes. While you may not be interested in what your seatmate is watching or working on, 49 percent of passengers admit to sneaking peeks at their neighbor’s laptop(1). To help protect confidential information, consider using a 3M Privacy Filter, which prevents others from seeing what is on your laptop by darkening side views.

* Dim that screen on night flights. Flying is the perfect time to catch up on all the TV shows or movies you’ve missed. But don’t forget that the constant glow and flicker of the screen can irritate your seatmate, especially on overnight flights.

* Lower the volume. You know the volume of your headphones is too loud when your neighbor can follow along with the movie you are watching on your laptop. Keep the volume at a reasonable level to avoid disturbing your seatmates.

* Share the “juice.” The Wi-Fi antenna on your laptop is a power hog and can drain your battery faster than you think. While some planes offer power plugs, every seat in a row may not have an electrical outlet available, so share the power supply with your neighbor.

* Set your boundaries, but know your limits. It is never OK to comment on what someone else may be working on or watching, unless of course it is overly offensive or noisy. If a seatmate is watching something you find overly offensive, consider moving to another seat. If that’s not possible, politely tell your seatmate that you find what they are watching offensive. If all else fails, ask your flight attendant to intervene.

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