Industry Insider: Signals from the great beyond


Connectivity is King. I have decided it is the key to happiness and a manageable work/life balance. Perhaps even world peace. Four green bars on my device puts a broad grin on my face but the “no network” signal plunges me into a dark, fearful place

insiderWhen I am sitting in my plane seat tapping away and a member of the cabin crew breaks the news that “it is time to turn off all electronic devices for landing” I exhale loudly as a reflex response which must come over as slightly brusque.

Watchers of the popular TV drama series The West Wing might remember a scene in which that really clever bloke who advises the president tells a stewardess on a plane that it is absolute nonsense to suggest his cell phone could interfere with any of the pilot’s instruments during landing. I have always wanted to believe he was right….answers on a post card please. But anyway, back to connectivity. So many airports now have an app for this and an app for that but connectivity is far more of an issue. Fourteen flights in two months has proved my central premise.

A snap funeral in Dublin was a good example (flight number seven). In Ireland people are buried or cremated very quickly – for flown in mourners there is no time to hang about. So relatives of the departed arrive at the airport in a state of complete disarray and need to get connected. Free wi fi in arrivals meant that I was able to get online and (a) check the address of the relative who had passed away (b) send some work to my publisher. Trying to do that on a phone with clunky man’s fingers would have taken too long – I might even have missed the burial. So thank you Dublin airport for joining up the dots of my chaotic existence.

Which brings me one day later to another terminal and a business trip to San Diego and ESTA. I didn’t have it. ESTA that is, or at least, my old one had expired. No network on my ludicrously expensive electronic wafer thin mint. So I had to queue up at the coin slot internet booths that look like they belong in an amusement arcade. Then I had to queue up for the correct change. It was like travelling back in time to an age before electric light.

I felt disconnected with the world.


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