Just returned from a business/pleasure trip to New York.
From San Francisco to JFK, I flew American Airlines in coach, specifically to try its new wireless network service (available on 767-200 aircraft flying between JFK and SF, LA, and Miami). The service, Aircell's Gogo, cost $13 for the entire flight. Aircell employees were stationed at the departure gate, handing out coupons for 25% off the service. (See picture below.)
The connection speed was not quite as fast as my DSL-based wireless network at home. But it was speedy enough to watch YouTube videos with only occasional lags and skips. A bonus: I had a DC power port at my seat, so with an adapter, I kept my MacBook Air powered throughout the flight.
For my return flight, I traveled on Virgin America. I was a Virgin virgin and was curious what the buzz was all about.
The A319 aircraft I was on didn't have wireless or wired networking (Virgin's working on adding that). The entertainment system was fun and easy to use, however. And my coach cabin seat had an AC power outlet.
But here's the curious thing. When my MacBook Air was plugged into the outlet, its cursor/pointer became virtually unusable. I would drag my finger across the trackpad to move the cursor to select, say, an icon in the Mac OS dock. But the cursor wouldn't respond at all. Or it would have a delayed response of as much as half a minute.
I thought my MacBook Air was having a meltdown. Then, out of curiosity, I unplugged the laptop from the power port at my seat. The cursor movement immediately returned to normal. When I plugged the computer back in to the power port, the cursor went back into lag mode.
I was watching Mad Men episodes on my MacBook Air, so the cursor lag wasn't a significant problem. When I needed to use the cursor, I'd just unplug the computer, move the pointer, then plug the computer back in. If I had needed to work, however, the cursor delay would have been intolerable.
High tech amenities in flight are finally arriving, after years of stops and starts. The ability to surf the Web in the sky is a big step forward. But my experience using Virgin America's power port is a reminder that quirky, mysterious technical glitches still follow us, no matter where we go.