Image by Alberto Grilo
In many ways, being stuck on an airplane seems like an ideal time to get work done, and busy professionals the world over have strived to stay productive while in the air. Unfortunately, even though in-flight WiFi and easy access to outlets are becoming more common, working on a plane can be a frustrating experience. Cramped seats, inconsistent Internet service, and a noisy environment make for a fairly terrible mobile office. Luckily, these problems have solutions.
Begin the quest for productivity when booking a flight by choosing airlines with WiFi and power outlets. It can also be a good idea to select a window or aisle seat, as being stuck between two other passengers can make typing uncomfortable. Those who find it difficult to work in noisy environments like airplanes will often benefit from a good pair of noise-canceling headphones, but even a pair of cheap earbuds will go a long way toward avoiding the distraction of small talk. Anyone who travels frequently for business should also invest in a small laptop, as the big desktop replacements many people favor are unpleasant to use in the tiny space between one’s lap and the seat in front. Furthermore, because many passengers seem to regard an open laptop as an invitation to watch, a privacy screen filter can be a great way to avoid rubberneckers.
Before boarding, be sure that all devices are fully charged, and consider downloading everything one might need to work on, as airplane WiFi rarely provides a fast, stable connection. Ideally, bring some paperwork, reading materials, or other non-electronic business to take care of during the period of the flight where electronic devices are prohibited. Finally, consider taking a few moments before the plane takes off to introduce yourself to whoever is sitting in front of you and politely asking them to refrain from reclining their seat, which is significantly more likely to work than complaining mid-flight.