Inveterate internet users feel cut off when they board a flight. They miss their emails, their ability to surf the net and their online access to information about a million things.

This may become a thing of the past as airlines begin to offer in-flight internet access. An article in the New York Times says :” JetBlue Airways will begin offering a free e-mail and instant messaging service on one of its planes, while American Airlines, Virgin America and Alaska Airlines plan to offer broader Web access in coming months, probably at a cost around $10 a flight.”

Henry Harteveldt, a researcher with Forrester Research said:”I think 2008 is the year when we will finally start to see in-flight Internet access become available,”  In his view it will soon become a “must have ” feature on airlines. In a few years time,” he added, “if you get on a flight that doesn’t have Internet access, it will be like walking into a hotel room that doesn’t have TV.”

Soon airline passengers could clamour for onboard calls too but the public response for this feature may be more muted. Mr. Harteveldt describes it so well when he calls it “one of those ‘just because you can doesn’t mean you should’ types of technologies,” Mr. Harteveldt said. “The last thing you want is to be in a crowded tube at 35,000 feet for two or three hours with some guy going on and on about his trip to Vegas.”

I am sure most would welcome internet access but would prefer not to have others take voice calls on board.

Soon a day may come when you can’t use your long flight as an excuse for not having seen the latest in your email inbox !