The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week began auctioning off radio wave frequencies that would enable airlines the ability to offer broadband internet to travellers. I for one have mixed feelings about this.
On the plus side, I would be able to send and receive e-mail while I am on the plane. This is great because for the 2-3 hours I am in the air, usually I am left to writing e-mails and having them sit until I am somewhere with a connection. I would also be able to chat online and get important business done ... as well as fool around and be super un-productive, as any college student does with AIM, Facebook, MySpace, etc.
On the otherhand, broadband internet on airplanes opens up the possibility for VoIP. As this article in Information week points out, airline passengers would now have to deal with people chatting away with people, much like a person would if they were able to use their cell phone on the plane. Airplane travel would now be on the same plane (no pun intended) as travelling on a bus, subway or walking the city streets of New York. People would no longer have a need to talk to eachother, and would simply make calls to pass the time while they travel.
It is hard enough to deal with rude people on airplanes, but to do so with a microphone headset strapped to their head would increase the annoyance of airline travel.
Ultimately I see it as a tradeoff between increased business productivity and annoying consumer behavior. Ultimately I believe people would abuse the privilege, and air travel would become much less enjoyable.