In-flight WiFi raises etiquette questions

With more and more airlines offering their passengers wireless internet access, some interesting issues arise about proper in-flight internet etiquette. In addition, airlines must decide if they want to give their patrons full access to the internet, with all the risks and concerns that brings about.

A recent AP article paints a nightmarish scenario that may arise unless airlines are willing to restrict their passengers’ internet access: “Seat 17D is yapping endlessly on an Internet phone call. Seat 16F is flaming Seat 16D with expletive-laden chats. Seat 16E is too busy surfing porn sites to care. Seat 17C just wants to sleep.”

It seems reasonable to me that no phone calls should be allowed (annoying) and pornography should be filtered (disgusting). But while airlines like American, Alaskan, and Virgin have banned internet phone services like Skype, they “have no plans to filter sites based on their content. At most, [they] may manage traffic and delay large downloads.”

Said one exec of a company in charge of installing WiFi on airplanes: “We think decency and good sense and normal behavior” will prevail. Sure it will.