The Easy Trade
I am on a flight from NYC to San Francisco. I paid for business class but I am sitting in the way back of coach, right next to the rest rooms. Why, you might ask, would I trade a business class seat for the very back of the bus?
Simple. The power outlets in business class aren't working and they are working fine in coach. My macbook's battery doesn't give me 6 hours of laptop time, so I need power to work the entire way from NYC to SF. With wifi on most of the flights from NYC to SF these days, working from coast to coast has become a key part of my routine.
I personally think power in every seat and wifi on every plane ought to be the law of the land, but I don't make the laws. I hope someone who is reading this does. And I hope United gets the power working in business class before my flight back to NYC.
I’m still puzzled to see that barely any plane for international flight has outlets.. At the same time, the devices that they put on seats are more complex every year, and I bet people use them less and less. If I was owning a low-cost airline, i would put wifi on all planes, for free, add electric plugs (and USB power outlets) and drop these stupid little screens. I would also make sure one can use a laptop even when the front seat is reclined!
The sophisticated screens are to sell pay per view content and food. 🙂
Right…but I’d love to see the actual costs of having + maintaining them. I bet it’s a pain!
I just wrapped up a run as CEO of LiveTV – the company that makes and maintains those “stupid little screens” on JetBlue (and others, like Continental). Quick reactions: 1. people love them…LOVE THEM, 2. on airlines that charge for access (e.g. Continental, Delta, etc…) the little screens outsell WiFi access by a big margin, running away, 3. yes, they’re a pain to maintain!, 4. there’s a great payback on them…it’s worth the pain.Obviously WiFi on planes is a huge deal looking ahead. On certain routes today, there are passenger segments (coast-to-coast, Fred) for whom WiFi is a decision maker. But on most routes and for most people, it’s not a big deal. Lots of “normal people” would rather lean back and watch a game/movie than try to type in “preying mantis mode” in a cramped middle seat.The best answer is both WiFi and TV. People want the entertainment/connectivity environment they have at home. JetBlue’s going to deliver this in a big and amazing way through the partnership they announced with ViaSat and LiveTV a few months ago. They’ll start installing Ka-band broadband in mid 2012. Ka can provide true broadband – fast, cheap and lots of it. It’s going to make the “broadband” that’s flying today feel like dial-up AOL.And, even though Fred sat next to a toilet today for it, I think in-seat power is dead. At least on domestic flights. Any sort-of-new laptop can go coast-to-coast with no problem. Power on planes, for the most part is weight and complexity that people aren’t going to care about in 2 years.
You are making me sad that I graduated. I may speed some money to go to Chicago anyway, however you are making all those flights I took seemingly sad in comparison
My mistake then… I’m probably not representative, but I can’t help but think that within a couple years (months) everyone on a plane will have at least an iOS device or a laptop….
I totally agree with you actually. I just think the best airlines (e.g. JetBlue, United/Continental) will continue to offer in-seat screens AND wifi. They’ll be integrated like they are at home. Even when we all have iOS/Android tablets on the coffee table, we’ll still want a bigger and brighter screen on the wall across from the couch. I think it’s the same thing on the plane. The seat back is the wall.Here’s awesome : search for and select content on your device, push it to your bigger screen (a la Boxee), then use your little screen for other stuff like you do at home. Sportscenter on wall, twitter/email/facebook/spreadsheet/blog post on Macbook. Flying would be better, even in the middle seat!
Look forward to flying Julien airlines in 2020
I agree with all of the other sentiment, except for the “stupid little screens”.For the most part, I think people love those little screens, especially now that most are touchscreens. I see everyone, from little old ladies (and men), to small children, poking at them and interacting. Flipping through TV, playing crappy games, ordering food, and doing whatever else their fingers lead them too. I think they’re a good thing.
I understand, but based on the number of iPad and laptops I see on each plane, I think airlines should bet on making the life of these devices better rather than try to re-invent the wheel…
Yeah, or just rent out ipads rather than their silly “personal mediadevices”. I like the little screen with the map and thedistance/speed/time to arrival though 🙂
Yeah, me too, but that could easily be served from a “local” web app in the plane 🙂
On flights with wifi, an iPad and FlightTrack Pro are a better combination than the screens on the flight. Its actually kinda fun. I happened to sit next to a VC on a flight, someone who had invested in a travel company, and he was blown away by how people were using this kind of technology.
I like the ability of having power and wifi available on flights, and always use it when there, but it cuts into my reading. When I’m not on a plane or train or the like, I’m either doing something not sedentary or connected to some device. I’ve found that the only time I actually read a book is while I’m in transit.
i’ve got a book with me in the unlikley event of inbox zero
Isn’t that an urban legend?
great name for a musical act
before even planes, mention airport 🙂
can’t really sympathize boss. that is what you get when you sell your soul to the dark side and go macbook on us. netbook, 8 hour battery life…..we’d be enjoying a very different blog post in fredland today. and you’d be in business class, laughing at the poor ass fools with no leg room, instead of hearing the flushing sound every five minutes. damn.
welcome to my life, well played
heehee, the new Mac portables have great battery life, Kid (up to 10 hours). Fred just needs to update his MacBook and donate his current model to someone with less demanding power needs. 😉
i hate moving from machine to machinewith most of my apps in the cloud, its way easier now, but still it isa pain i avoid until i am forced to
With SuperDuper it’s a 1hr job to clone your macbook to a new machine. I’ve done it numerous times. Works like a charm.
Stefan, I use SuperDuper too and love it. In my case, I’m often upgrading the OS at the time of equipment upgrade, so it’s less useful for setting up the new machine. I normally upgrade ram and hard drive on day one though, so SuperDuper (or CarbonCopyCloner if one doesn’t want to buy commercial software) is great. I use it for all my backups as well, on multiple machines. Great product and support.
Not always a good idea if you’re moving to radically different machines (processor, OS levels). While SuperDuper is awesome (the author wrote the famous Brief editor in the late 80s) I’d recommend Apple’s Migration Assistant, for this task, instead. It is exceptionally good (compared to what Windows users have had to endure for years ever since program data went from profile files to the dreaded registry). I upgrade Mac laptops almost every year and the migration is painless.
I gave you a LIKE for reminding me of my first “IDE” – Brief.
I have had the same experience as David. Setting up 4 new systems this year was easy. Keeping them all in sync has not been so easy (dropbox helps with code/media, but not installed apps).
Fred, I am the same way. I’m very slow to update such machines. Full disclosure, I’m using an older MacBook now too, while my daughter is using the 13″ MacBook Pro after hers was stolen recently. I’ll get a new 13″ before my next long trip next month.I haven’t used the Apple migration tool included in the system, but a friend uses it regularly as he updates every other year. He claims it’s a snap. Maybe I’ll use it this time… or not. 😉 Probably just do it my old, manual way.Have a great flight and successful visit to S.F. I’d love to buy you lunch when you’re in the Bay Area sometime. At least you should have good weather this week.
*cough* Dell *cough*
Always enjoy seeing your avid support for more government regulation.;)
i reblogged a quote from my partner today on that topichttp://fredwilson.vc/post/2…
As one who flies United to Asia (from the U.S.) regularly, I’m happy to say that most of the aircraft used are well equipped in business class with multiple power outlet options. The seats have been setup with ethernet and iPod connections as well. A couple of 777s were still waiting upgrades last month, but hopefully they’ll be finished soon.I agree that all flights (longer than simple commutes) should be well equipped with power and wifi. Flights are a great time to get work done.
I’ve started doing most of my work on an iPad and easily get through the longest Continental US flights. The first article I did for you was largely created on an iPad using iThoughsHD (mind mapping) and Pages. Unless I actually have to do programming and require Eclipse and other, big editing tools, I’m shifting almost entirely to the iPad for day-to-day computing.
i should taking my iPad out of the house. only time i’ve done that isour middle east trip
i’ve read 3 books this year already on th treadmill thanks to the IPAD. i use it on the plane – i leant my laptop to the Au pair.its an awsome device for me outside the house.
I just got my wife hooked on ebooks (kindle or iBooks), she’s a speed reader and sliced through $50 worth of books in a week. I wish I could move that fast through tech books and docs.
the one thing on the ipad – you need to download the kindle app to get access to a proper library. i am reading a book on hindhuism while i “pray” if you get my drift.
How can you focus and run?
its a fast walk shana a fast walk 😉
From what I understand, providing enough electricity to power a laptop in every seat is more than a large plane’s electric systems are able to handle.An efficient compromise would be to make plugs part of seat selection. Add a $5 fee to seats with plugs and you’ll quickly get to where everyone who needs one has one. (Of course business class should have it in all seats, that’s just ludicrous).
macbook pros draw ~ 85W of power, so multiply that by N passengers wanting to plug in their laptops and that is a lot of power. Older plane’s electrical systems were not designed for that much load from the passengers. Newer airliners’s such as the new airbus models and the new Boeing Dreamliner have electrical systems with modern passenger power needs in mind so you will be able to outlets available to all passengers if the airline choose to fit it out that way. On older airliners, that is not the case and they have to limit it or retrofit them with newer systems. There is also probably an issue with generating that extra electrical power — I think the electrical power is driven by redirecting air from the engines through generator turbines, which reduces fuel efficiency.
Interesting observations. Planes have huge amounts of power generating capability with solar, thermal and wind capabilities. Friction always has a cost. Most jets have an emergency power system which simply inserts a turbine into the slipstream and turns generating power.
It might not just be the power supply itself, but the wiring that might not be capable of handling the load. I’m not sure – just throwing that out as a possibility.
warning……smart arse comment alert….should have packed the spare battery
i stopped doing that about a year ago. too heavy
worth it for the leg room I’d say
You can start paying me to follow you around and carry spare batteries… I usually carry my backpack with laptop and a bunch of books + more on a regular basis. I can cook, bake, probably instruct a relatively decent spur-of-the-moment yoga class or guided meditation, and I’d be able to keep good conversation relating to tech space, health, etc. etc.. Also, I’m told I have magical hands too (no happy ending massage), and I have my level 1 Reiki certificate, but know quite a bit more than level 1…. :PEdit: We’d have to avoid escalators when rollerblading though… LOL….
Umm, as my mom would say, “So, Nu, why aren’t you married yet?” Or the shana version “why aren’t there more guys like this in NY?”
It would be nice to have that luxury all the time. Since I fly SouthWest most regularly, I typically use my flight time to relax and enjoy the view (if we are going somewhere cool).This speaks to the level of productivity in our country though. These simple changes, like putting outlets in an airplane are a huge (though non-sustainable) competitive advantage. I wonder what is next in terms of innovation for flying…Boris Fowlerwww.caycon.com
i’m hoping for teleportation myself
Name a problem that could not be solved by teleportation!There are none.
The first ideas that popped into my head ended up being solvable by teleportation. You win.
will suborbital spaceflights do in the meantime?http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id…
Time for a new Macbook Air 13″. I easily get six hours on mine if I dim the screen.
that will be my next computer. this comment thread nailed it for me
great call, you’ll love it.pay extra and get the extra memory/CPU speed.
i always do those two things, plus max out the ram, when i buy an apple product
It is the greatest computer I have ever owned. Snag a 30″ LED monitor too for the desk at work.
Brad you beat me to this comment. It’s your new leanness that’s made you fast.Scanning your updates as they go by in twitter. Wife and I joined a gym Monday. It’s been 3 years since I’ve exercised like that. I usually walk 60-80 miles a week, but have changed up to elevate heart rate (got too pudgy last year). Today is day three, scheduled 4 days of gym/intense workouts per week.
I have many more pounds to lose! Enjoy the gym.
I’ve long thought that the science of exercise and nutrition seem to be taking a back seat to this smart and informed and techy audience.What we can do now with a bit of knowledge both in what we eat and how we exercise is a life changer as much as the social web is.I’m a believer and power user of both. It’s true.I echo your message to Mark…Enjoy the gym but get geeky on what you do there so you get the most out of the least time.
I cant believe I am saying this: I am totally with you about the gym. I’ve found that having a Nike+ helps for the most part, as well as having a food doary/calorie counter
Yeah I had to make a change.I don’t snack outside of meals, and am pretty good at strictly counting calories (that’s how I lost 115pounds in 2004-2005). But my body has pretty much adapted to walking at 3-4mph and I was apparently not burning as many calories even though I was walking a steady ~20 hours per week. I did switch my diet by including breakfast and decreasing dinner sizes from October to now.
Snacking outside of meals is actually really good for you (more opportunity to absorb nutrients, lets you use immediate energy, etc), as long as they’re healthy snacks, and as long as you slightly reduce the meal size for main meals. 🙂
Thanks for the tip Matt. I snacked on some baked chips and spinach dip after a light dinner. The gym’s a dual sided sword, the more intensely I exercise, the hungrier I get.
“got too pudgy last year”Seems like that happens to many of us the first year of marriage!Ahh, the tradeoffs.
Ditto. Awesome bit of kit.
I would gladly pay a nominal fee for an outlet. I always find myself doing work at the airport in an awkward position so I have access to an outlet. That way I get the full battery usage on the plane. But it’s be nice if batteries weren’t an issue. Heck, I might even check my laptop battery with the rest of my luggage to make my bag lighter.I usually use miles to upgrade to first class when it’s available, and to this day I’ve never had an outlet on a plane. Although I’m typically flying Delta or Southwest out of Pittsburgh so that may have something to do with it.
I am convinced that the most focussed and creative work I ever get done is on planes or trains. It’s something about the motion, noise, and wanting to impress the strangers to my right and my left with how productive I am. So much so (and assuming this is true for others as well) that I have seriously considered starting a a business that simulates planes atmospheres marketed toward people who want to get a ton of work done. Who wouldn’t pay $40 for six hours of guaranteed productivity? I would.
Odd. I got a call from AA a day before my flight b/c they knew in advance that the power outlets weren’t going to work in my seat. They apologized and gave me some miles.
wow. i would have taken another flight!
I fly only with my iPad. I never have to worry about battery life, and I also don’t have to take it out at the security check point.
i can’t type fast enough on the ipadi hope to solve that this year
Dragon Dictation from Nuance. 🙂 Actually, it’s not good enough for what any of us would need – yet. You’re right about lots of content creation on the iPad. It’s hard. I’d say a Macbook AIR is the next best choice.
why not use a Cr48 plenty of power and since you have everything in the cloud it will work plenty well for you.
I have one and I seriously love it for tasks like that. I just need a case (anyone have a favorite brand of laptop sleeves)
I have a few for other laptops, i feel so ehhh about them because theyiterated too much around the design and fugged out
Get an iPad case with a built in keyboard http://buytypad.com/typad-g…
I’ve found that I can actually type fast enough, but when I make the inevitable typo and have to use the little magnifier thing to go back and fix it, I really, really, really get bogged down. A dedicated set of arrow keys and backspace is really all I would need to be fairly productive on an iPad.
gay apple lover. “i have an iPad so im better than you”
i didn’t get that sense from Gary’s commenti work with Gary and he’s not the least bit like that
my MacBook air battery made it most of the way cross country in November, I’d never sac the leg room of business class (have only ever flown coach). iPad made it easily, but it’s tougher to write on, and I reserved that for reading after Michelle got bored.wifi sucked though, had to pay too much to get it. Ended up working cut off from net, and synching at hotel.
2 words: Virgin America (it said Atlantic – I changed it)
Or, in the US – Virgin America.
Looks like Maslov needs to revise his pyramid. Stuffing always-on somewhere in between food and shelter
Oddly enough, Amtrak has had this down for years. Their cheapest ticket gets me a table in the Cafe Car (where I am sitting as I type this, about to leave NY Penn Station) with multiple outlets and my Verizon MiFi picking up plenty of bandwidth. I intentionally got the smaller MacBook Pro because it fits nicely on an airplane tray table, and would choose an airline that gave me an outlet and WiFi while traveling.
it’s also quite amazing how many hotels also don’t have reliable wi-fi – there is a total disconnect w/ their customer.
I was in Michoacán, Mexico last year visiting friends. I took the bus from D.F. to the mountains in the middle of “nowhere”. The entire trip I had full bars on my cell phone and wireless Internet access…on a bus..in central Mexico and in the mountains at 6,000+ feet.I got on Amtrak the other day to take a train to Philly. It was not an Acela so there was no Internet service.At times I have trouble understanding where the U.S. gets off considering itself a developed nation….
Hehe, The exact same thing happened to me about a year ago exactly I went to SF.Worse for me, I was in coach, and the only power outlets strong enough to put power into my 17inch Powerbook were the ones on first class. For some reason, the outlets where I sat weren’t actually imputing charge into the laptop… and I did not realize that till an hour after paying for the wifi.The usual tricks help, dim the computer screen if you can, turn off your bluetooth (assuming is on)and quit all the stuff your not using.
“…ought to be the law of the land” Do you agree that politics affects almost everything these days?
Since the AVC community is full of entrepreneurs/startup/vcs, i think you fellas can point me to the right direction…I came up with a idea to create a FINANCE product not a web or app..a real finance product ( lending related). but i dont know if this finance product is legal. So how can i go about finding this info.Would any law firm be able to help? Any advice that helps me is welcome
check out FinTech Innovation Lab at http://www.nycif.org/not sure if they can tell you off the bat if it’s legal or not, but you’ll find out pretty quickly apply to the process and potentially being selected by a bank to implement it…just a thought
“I personally think power in every seat and wifi on every plane ought to be the law of the land…” Ha ha!
Let’s worry about getting WiFi on mass transit and light commuter rail first.And power. There are only four outlets on the newer lirr cars. And no WiFi.Besides, isn’t anyone here worried about WiFi on planes and the security risks?
Until I hear conclusive scientific test results from the airline industry and RF experts I’ll continue to call bullshit on the interference problems we are being warned about on airplanes from our cell phone signals and, now, wifi. Wouldn’t those same planes that are literally bathed in random wifi and cell phone signal noise while at the gate or climbing through an airports ATC area exhibit problems?Future planes will drive a lot of their signaling optically. Inter-device interference will be largely impossible. Until then, the communication networks that already exist are largely digital and well insulated from noise.I think most of the warnings are designed for control and FUD purposes.I’m happy to be proved wrong, provided I’m not on that particular flight. 🙂
Oh I am with you about interference being a non-issue having left my phoneon by accident numerous times on planes.With the wifi, my question is largely could you single from a computer intothe cargo hold to make a plastic explosive blow.
Fred, congrats on being the top VC blogger in the world. http://goo.gl/fb/Du0jv You deserve better than a seat next to the toilet. 🙂
Did they deliver the business class food at least?
i just hope Virgin Galactic has outlets and free WiFi, geeze…don’t see anything about it yet thought, http://www.virgingalactic.com/
WiFi on a plane is awesome. I wonder what ideas people have on how to control/manage talking or having a video call over Skype etc as that could disturb fellow passengers.
Just like on Metro North trains you are not allowed to use your cell phone or skype services for voice calls, even if you think you are whispering only. So no not on flights or on the subway either, that is just uncouth arrogant and bad behavior to be so self absorbed to have vocal voice conversations on public transportation. You can communicate via text and or deploy a text to voice and voice to text tool to do that.Though if you have seen the Wood Allen movie Sleepers maybe one could come up with a self contained helmet that encloses you inside with a breathing apparatus and sealed unit you can talk inside of and nobody can hear on the outside.
I wonder why does Mr.Wilson take a flight operated by a public company like UAL. I would think that he would be a owner in NetJets as a fractional jet owner. I bet they would make sure that the G5 would be fully equipped with power and wifi for him.Leave the minions like us take flights searching for the best fares ( while getting fleeced on other charges).Wonder if Mr.Wilson announced he was willing to give up his business class seat for another seat which had a working outlet or did he just find an empty seat at the very back.There was a time when the major U.S. airlines used to fly 747’s on the coast to coast routes, oh well that was way before most of the folks who read or comment on this blog…
i prefer to fly commercialnot much for private planes
Can u imagine if you had an extension cord and ran it from the first economy seat to yours?Pls let us know if United’s social media gremlins contact you as a result of this.
That extension cord thing would have been one of the most awesome things ever to see someone attempt…especially if it was one of those big orange outdoor ones…hilarious! =D
Can we introduce one last minute bit of legislation?Make the power outlets mandatory in nice cafés and restaurants too.I don’t like to work trapped between the same four walls all the time.
On your flight back, watch this and get ready to LOL. Enjoy. http://www.youtube.com/watc…
Now I can pitch my remote charger invention for funding.. Damn, let me start working on the invention…
I think you got nice experience during journey between NYC to SF. I can not do this but can forward your message to associated officers who are able to take decision in this direction.
You should get the HyperMac external battery… I bought it for both my iPhone and Mac book. My micro HyperMac external battery (size of an iPhone) extends my iPad by 5 hours and can recharge my iPhone three times. My other external battery for the Mac book gives me an extra 17-20 hours of battery life… covers you in even international flights if the outlets are a fail. (And no, I don’t work for HyperMac! Just had a friend introduce me to their products… will save you from coach next time)
Fred: this is crazy – they should compensate you big time, but at minimum, add lots of miles. Also, flying Virgin solves this problem as well.
I was on that flight too. A few rows back from row 7. The meetup.com jacket caught my eye. I recognized you, but I realized I didn’t really have anything to say since you share so much here! Also everyone was cranky because it was early and they were slow with the coffee.I fly that route all the time. I’ve started dividing my time between the iPad (email, etc) and the Macbook Pro. If you have an MBP, you’ll find its voltage is too high for the in-seat power, so it doesn’t charge. It /does/ charge if you close the lid. All of Apple’s other laptops work find (Macbook, Macbook Air, etc).
i would have enjoyed meeting you rob
Its a fuck*** miracle to sit down, while flying through the air – Watch this clip from Louis C.K about the miracle of flight http://comedians.jokes.com/…REALLY FUNNY. 🙂
“it’s a chair in air!!!”when i first saw that, i laughed so hard i almost died
You’ll have to get them to add power supply to this ‘best place to sit on a plane’ infographic (i personally focus on the best place to survive a plane crash but power supply might come second)http://dailyinfographic.com…
I work in corporate travel and can help you put in a note to United as I know the sales manager there. I can also help you book and save money on business class tickets! Feel free to email me: [email protected]-Randee
Chronic commuter here. WiFi is slowly but surely becoming the standard. As for outlets, you’re probably better off getting an expanded battery pack, unless you always fly business.
LOL I’m so going to wreck the business class power sockets and skulk around the back of coach the next time I fly coast to coast on the off chance I can bump into you Fred.
I flew out to LA last night. Almost made it the whole way on one MacBook Air charge. My Thinkpad allows me to change batteries so I carry an extra one. Winner = Thinkpad. Not as cool as the Air but I can easily take 10 hours of power with me.
It makes me wonder what Fred did on planes before Internet access became widely available on them, and when he does that stuff now. Not just Fred, but everyone else: when the Internet’s available, most of us are on it. What are we missing as a result?
i would download everything to my hard drive and work offline for 6 hours
that’s what I do now. Can’t count on connectivity.