Social Media & Flying, What Next?

Inspired by Business Traveller magazine article Time to Tweet, September 2011.

TwitterFlicker Frequent fliers have always been a savvy lot, you only have to observe them once the plane has landed. They are all Apple-berried Black-berried and Spaceship-Android out. Following the need to be where your customers are it seems airlines are cottoning on to using social media  platforms as a communication tool.

The article makes the point that social media  is useful to get information about and from airlines especially in times of crises. American carriers lead the way as early adopters which is no surprise if you consider that they have the most sophisticated market. With so much unpredictable weather between the east and west coast, they probably do more waiting around in airports than most. Facebook and Twitter updates  are better than the usual silence and uncertainty.

Social Media as a communications tool is great but where is it leading? More people who fly use social media, more people than ever board the plane with a laptop, iPad, Kindle or other entertainment device. Failing In-flight entertainment apart people want to keep themselves entertained more than ever.

Close on the heels of the drive for more choice is how airlines can make it profitable while satisfying demand. One such avenue to do this is the addition of In-flight Wifi. In North America there are 1200 flights you can board with In-flight Wifi. In Europe there are only 100. More airlines are installing Wifi as we speak but is it really the right way to go? I have personally spoken to passengers (frequent fliers) who dread the day Wifi becomes a regular feature on planes. With Wifi comes all the other concerns – that long distance call to your cousin in New Zealand you never speak to and the loss of a work free sanctuary! Not to mention the health consequences.

From a therapist’s and frequent flier’s view the signs are not good. Electrosmog (including ionizing radiation) is a problem on the ground where we have optimal conditions. It becomes a grave problem in an ungrounded aircraft at altitude with less oxygen and increased cosmic radiation from outside the plane. To make matters worse general health in populations is on the decline spearheaded by the rise in auto-immune disease. Immunity in compromised environments is one less thing fliers would like to worry about. No one is even looking at this downside at the moment.

Will we see a revival of cabin divisions (like the ‘70s, smoking or non-smoking seats) once the unhealthy nature of Wifi at altitude is apparent? Instead of smoking or non-smoking it will be lead cabin or non lead cabin. Time will tell, while we are past the point of living without these useful gadgets we need responsible conversations about the true consequences they pose to our health.

Photo attributed to respres’ under Creative Commons License.

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