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Survey Finds Airport Wi-Fi More Important Than Food 247

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the you-can-go-days-without-food dept.
Ninjakicks writes "For the business traveler (and the traveler in general, really), Wi-Fi is important — crucial, even. But more important than sustenance? That's exactly what was found in a recent survey by American Airlines and HP, where some 47% of business travelers responded that Wi-Fi was the most important airport amenity, outscoring basic travels needs such as food by nearly 30 percent."
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Survey Finds Airport Wi-Fi More Important Than Food

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  • Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tridus (79566) on Monday May 25, 2009 @11:07AM (#28083623) Homepage

    Airport food is expensive and usually bad. It's much easier to pack a lunch or just eat when you arrive then it is to pack a WiFi base station.

    • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

      by an.echte.trilingue (1063180) on Monday May 25, 2009 @11:15AM (#28083725) Homepage
      I disagree. Airport food is usually pretty good, although it is way too expensive. Also, trying to get a nice meal (which, for me, usually includes drinks and sauces or yogurt) through security is not that easy.

      I think this has more to do with a pyramid of needs. Once you have enough sleep, you think about water. Once you have enough water, you think about nutrition. Once you have enough nutrition, you think about the food tasting good, and so on.

      What this survey means is that airports are meeting those basic needs well enough that people can think about things that are higher up on the pyramid but not adequately provided, not that those things lower on the pyramid are actually that important.

      Imagine for a moment that airports suddenly removed all of the bathrooms. Where do you think Wifi would rank on the next survey?
      • by Yvan256 (722131) on Monday May 25, 2009 @11:18AM (#28083763) Homepage Journal

        The history of every major galactic civilisation has passed through three distinct and recognisable phases: those of survival, inquiry, and sophistication. Otherwise known as the 'How', 'Why', and 'Where' phases.

        For instance, the first phase is characterised by the question: "How can we eat?" The second by the question: "Why do we eat?" And the third by the question: "Where should we have lunch?"

      • by contrapunctus (907549) on Monday May 25, 2009 @12:20PM (#28084503)

        I think this has more to do with a pyramid of needs. Once you have enough sleep, you think about water. Once you have enough water, you think about nutrition. Once you have enough nutrition, you think about the food tasting good, and so on.

        Is this Maslow? Are you trying to push your pyramid of needs again?

        (dear mods, this is a joke, feel free to look it up)

      • by Krneki (1192201)
        Not the Airport food is bad, unhealthy and expensive. I'm sorry to tell you, but you should really start to eat some proper food.

        Fast food and shit will shorten your life. Next time you get a chance try some Mediterranean diet or at least try a genuine Italian restaurant. Yes it will take you 1 hour to eat, but this is because we care when it comes to food.
        • by drsquare (530038)

          Yeah Italian food, it doesn't get any healthier than a big bowl of starch drowning in oil, covered in greasy cheese.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          And just how do you know what my diet is like? I literally have not had fast food in years. As a vegetarian, those places have very little to offer me.

          And what is this mythical "Mediterranean diet" that you are referring to? I have lived in Italy, and Spain and Morocco. I have spent significant time in Greece, Croatia, Israel, southern France and Algeria. They all border the Med and the all have very different cuisine. Of them all, Italian is probably the worst for your health, despite what you seem to
      • Imagine for a moment that airports suddenly removed all of the bathrooms. Where do you think Wifi would rank on the next survey?

        Right below garbage cans and NASA diapers.

      • No, I agree airport food is expensive and not worth it, specially considering sanitary risks.

        I too thought of the restrooms and agree that if people were given a choice of restrooms or WiFi people would always take restrooms. Not so sure about food. I for once wouldn't mind if they were gone, I've only eaten in a airport once. Most of the time its better to just have a drink.

      • As someone who flies at least twice a week (with more than 45 trips already this year), I have a slightly different view.

        I've dietary restrictions (I'm a vegetarian and I'm allergic to eggs), but I still find a lot of good airport food. It's really not all that bad as people make it out to be. You just need to look in the right places, and there are plenty of good options. Similarly, water and restrooms are also taken for granted.

        Also, most frequently flier business travelers that I know have EVDO cards ins

    • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Brian Gordon (987471) on Monday May 25, 2009 @11:16AM (#28083747)
      Also travellers are used to being burned by airports without Wifi but they've never seen an airport without something to eat. It's natural that they'd complain about the former.
    • by qortra (591818)

      Airport food is expensive and usually bad.

      In my experience, one can also say this of wifi at many airports. For example, the last time I flew into DFW (about a year ago), they used T-Mobile for wifi. It cost $10 a day for bandwidth that was none too awesome.

      then it is to pack a WiFi base station

      I'm sure you're just making a joke here, but an access point is actually quite easy to pack. The hard part is getting it to work without an upstream connection to the internet.

      • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Monday May 25, 2009 @11:39AM (#28084015)

        It cost $10 a day for bandwidth that was none too awesome.

        Wifi at airports is free. If you are paying for it, you're doing it wrong.

        Here's how to do it:

        1. Start tcpdump -en
        2. Carefully note Ip addresses and corresponding mac addresses that fly by
        3. ifconfig wlan0 hw ether macAddress
        4. ifconfig wlan0 ip netmask netmask
        5. route add default gw router (router's ip can usually be guessed from IP)
        6. enjoy your free connectivity!
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by gilbert644 (1515625)
          That's called stealing.
          • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

            by laughingcoyote (762272) <barghesthowl AT excite DOT com> on Monday May 25, 2009 @03:13PM (#28086547) Journal

            That's called stealing.

            That's called silly. What are you stealing? Are they going to run out of packets more quickly that way?

            It is cracking, and certainly one can call into question the ethics of cracking into a network when you clearly know you are not supposed to be accessing it. One can also question the ethics of charging outrageously more for wifi than it costs to set it up and run it. One can also make a good case that the network is not meant to be closed to the public, it's simply meant to be paywalled, and so bypassing that paywall is not invading anyone's privacy. So even the ethical question is not as clear cut as you might think at first.

            Regardless, however, words have meanings. Stealing is taking something away from you that's exclusive (you and I can't both have it) without your consent. It's not a synonym for "conduct I dislike" or "conduct I find unethical".

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Krneki (1192201)
          Considering how easy is to get a terrorist tag this days I'm not sure if I want to hack an Airport network, especially in UK or US of A.
        • by hankwang (413283) *

          1 Carefully note Ip addresses and corresponding mac addresses that fly by
          2 ifconfig wlan0 hw ether macAddress
          3 ifconfig wlan0 ip netmask netmask

          And what happens to the connection of the other guy who had that IP address assigned to him?

          By the way, wouldn't the mac address be sufficient? With DHCP you would get the rest of the settings, isn't it?

    • by noundi (1044080)
      Period. Seriously now, the article was asking a retarded question (why people strangely enough choose to have global communication for a couple of horribly boring hours over a shitty meal not even worth the plastic plate it comes in), the parent answered and there's nothing more to it, except punching the author in the face for acting surprised.
    • It's much easier to pack a lunch or just eat when you arrive

      Not if you want to clear security and/or customs preclearance before grabbing a bite to eat.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Airport wifi is usually bad and expensive too. I wonder what this results really shows. I think wifi where I have to enter a credit card number to get a connexion is completely useless while a free wifi access is a very appreciated commodity.
    • I had the same reaction. When sitting in the airport you want something to occupy your time. WiFi lets you work.
      • I had the same reaction. When sitting in the airport you want something to occupy your time. WiFi lets you waste time on the interwebs.

        Fixed it for you.

  • restrooms ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dolphinzilla (199489) on Monday May 25, 2009 @11:09AM (#28083647) Journal

    restrooms would be my number one airport amenity ..

  • by saterdaies (842986) on Monday May 25, 2009 @11:10AM (#28083671)

    Personally, I find it easier to pack food to bring with me than an ethernet cord long enough to get from my cable modem to the airport.

    But that's just me.

  • I can bring food (Score:2, Redundant)

    by daffmeister (602502)

    The reason is simple, I can bring food, and get fed on the airline (usually). I can't bring wifi.

    (wireless modems excepted)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bert64 (520050)

      You usually can't get food past security... And you certainly don't want to have any left when you land in a foreign country or you could face stiff fines for illegally importing food.
      This is also why the food is overpriced, since you have no other alternative.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by flithm (756019)

        You usually can't get food past security... And you certainly don't want to have any left when you land in a foreign country or you could face stiff fines for illegally importing food.
        This is also why the food is overpriced, since you have no other alternative.

        Not sure what countries you are flying to and from, but I've done a fair bit of air travel in my life to varying countries around the world, and I've never once had a problem bringing my own food.

        Of course you can't bring your own water (that must be purchased after the security check point), but as long as you're okay with your food being pelted with x-rays (which is undoubtedly healthier than the food typically sold in most airports), you should be fine.

        Of course there are restrictions on certain types of

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          Water is essential to life. Not allowing you to bring your own is preposterous. Make the owner bring it in a clear bottle and drink some before the flight if you are paranoid. It's simple economic protectionism.

          • by jonbryce (703250)

            But water is apparently a highly explosive substance that can be used to bring a plane down.

            It isn't known exactly how this might be carried out, but apparently it was discussed on some Islamic internet site.

          • by Krneki (1192201)
            You can buy water before you board for 1-2 Euro.
          • by cdrguru (88047)

            The supposed reasoning behind the liquids ban was very simple - some folks found a receipe for bomb making using a binary liquid explosive. One component is hydrogen peroxide, I do know. Not sure what the other one is that was actually learned before any of this could be put into action, but the threat was real.

            I understood they were going to relax the restrictions in January or something like that. Didn't happen. Probably because someone heard that was just being waited on with the original scheme just

            • The REAL problem is that the US Government spent years training not-nice people in every cracked out way of hurting others imaginable. THEY have a bunch of these tactics THEY use against people THEY don't like and just assume regular folks are just as depraved about killing random folks as they are.

      • by Krneki (1192201)
        They never complain about my chocolate bars.
        • There was somebody who got busted because they thought his homemade chocolate was hashish. I read it on the internet somewhere a year or two ago, so I don't remember if it was an airport or somewhere else, but they arrested the guy and harassed him for a while before finally deciding it was actually chocolate.

    • by petes_PoV (912422)
      But you can also bring a magazine or something else to read, if you need to relieve your boredom. There are other ways of passing your time than goofing around on the internet.

      It's not as if you can do any high-quality work at an airport: surrounded by screaming children, incoherent announcements and people overflowing their seats and squeezing into your space,

    • On the average, I'm not flying with a new laptop, and unless I'm on a short-haul flight like San Jose - LA, I'm likely to need to plug in my computer while I'm waiting at the airport. I can bring many hours worth of data with me, but only an hour or two of electricity, and while it's sometimes convenient to use Google Maps at the airport instead of before leaving, I'd much rather have an airport that had decent electric sockets instead of being one of the couple of people sitting on the floor near the vac

  • by SirLoadALot (991302) on Monday May 25, 2009 @11:14AM (#28083713)

    The people answering the survey recognize -- apparently better than the people who looked at the results -- that every airport has some food in it, but not every airport has acceptable Wi-Fi. No one answering the survey was thinking "I'd rather starve on the net than feast without it!"

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by greed (112493)

      If I'm on the 'net, I can order food....

    • by JWSmythe (446288)

      That's exactly my thought.

      In any airport you can buy food from the mini-resturants, snacks and drinks in the stores, and on the flights they provide at least peanuts and soda for free, or will sell you beer, mixed drinks, and sometimes more food.

      When I step off a plane for a layover, I have my list of priorities.

      1) restroom. After 3 or 4 mixed drinks, I gotta pee.
      2) smoking lounge. Some airports are good about these. Some have the

      • "I looked a bit weird at one airport. My first flight had been overbooked, and then canceled due to mechanical problems. The next flight they could put me on was 6 hours later. I found a smoking lounge with available power outlets, with a restroom and bar close by, but there were no flights going through that end of the terminal at the time. I set up camp, answering calls, checking my email, and walking over to the bar picking up more drinks. The only other people in the smoking lounge were airport employee

    • More to the point, neither linked article seems to touch is how the question was asked. Multiple choice or open answer changes things dramatically: If I'm asked what's the most important amenity in an airport, I'm unlikely to even say "clean restrooms", I'll take that for granted. If I'm given a list and that pops up in there, I'll decidedly think "yeah, that's more important than wireless".

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by RealGrouchy (943109)

      Not at all. You see, if you have food, you can survive, and have to endure long waits without the Internet to keep you occupied/"productive". A purgatory, essentially.

      If you have wifi, you can continue watching videos of other people's cats until you die peacefully of starvation.

      Of course, the ideal situation is having both, where you can watch cat videos until you die from whatever food you bought at the airport cafeteria.

      - RG>

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday May 25, 2009 @11:19AM (#28083793)

    First, food in airports is notoriously bad, stale and generally nothing you'd want to eat, even when coming back from a famine-struck land. My personal theory is that this is the crap that they salvage from planes after the flight, the gunk not even the sardines-in-a-can class dwellers could stomach.

    So what does the knowledgeable traveller do? Right. He brings his own food.

    It's kinda hard, though, to bring your own WiFi AP with you...

    • by oldspewey (1303305) on Monday May 25, 2009 @11:35AM (#28083977)

      In my experience (generally 20+ business trips per year) there is usually a decent restaurant or two somewhere in most airports - especially the newer ones. Of course sometimes the "good" restaurant is in a completely different concourse from where your flight is departing, and the prices tend to be pretty high.

      Case in point: the new Indianapolis airport. I was pleasantly surprised at the food quality in the 500 Grill, where I had a tuna steak cooked to order on a bed of greens ... and incidentally Indy airport has free wifi but it's pretty slow.

  • Depends (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SolarStorm (991940)
    If I answered the survey while on a business trip, my answer would have been WiFi. If I was on vacation, that last thing that I want is WiFi, (A good supply of beer would be a better choice) The fact that we now live in a connected world cannot be ignored. Ask people if they would prefer WiFi or power stations to charge thier DVD's and see what answer you get. Most of the people using their computer (that I see are using it to watch a movie). Wifi is simply there for entertainment for a number of peop
  • Gotta love surveys (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly (148874) on Monday May 25, 2009 @11:24AM (#28083849)

    "a recent survey by American Airlines and HP"....

    I bet "a recent survey by American Airlines and Pizza Hut" would have come to the opposite conclusion.

  • by LibertineR (591918) on Monday May 25, 2009 @11:31AM (#28083927)
    I stopped caring about airport wi-fi the day I gave up the iphone for the Blackberry Storm. I know a lot of people dont like the Storm, but it tethers like nobodys business.

    My next toy will be to setup Microsoft's Direct Access replacement for VPN's and I will never be disconnected from my network. When more people become aware of Direct Access, that is going to put a dent in those who say they cant innovate in Redmond. This is some bad-ass technology.

    • How is this Direct Access different from auto-connecting VPN client?

      • Direct Access uses IPv6, requires no configuration after initial setup, no DHCP issues to deal with either. No worries about a VPN router's config or available connections, etc. Check it out.
    • by Gothmolly (148874)

      Since IPSEC and SSL VPNs have been around for years, and MS is just coming up with Direct Access, it DOES mean that they can't innovate. Once again, trailing behind.

      • Really?

        So, who has already done this? Tell me where you can have this setup over any other OS, TODAY?

        Dont be blinded by MS hatred. This is a serious advance over SSL VPNs and you know it. I dont know anyone anywhere leveraging IPv6 in this fashion.

    • But WiMAX is cheaper, faster and it just bloody works.

      • and gets to another point.

        Wimax tends to have no real cap either.

        the reason why 3G services will never replace local free wifi is that damn 5 gig cap.

  • by Jason Quinn (1281884) on Monday May 25, 2009 @11:32AM (#28083937)
    I absolutely hate how many US airports don't provide free Wifi for travelers (free Wifi seems to be more common abroad). For a minuscule fraction of their budget, airports could provide an invaluable service. It must change.
    • It is... [slashdot.org]
    • If they price it the way they price airport food, they won't be getting many customers. Airport WiFi pretty much only flourishes in places when its free. Airport food is usually stupidly overpriced since they think they've got a captive audience, then when they don't sell enough food to pay for running the business, they stupidly raise the prices even more in a vain attempt to stay fiscally afloat.

    • by petes_PoV (912422)
      What possible incentive would they have for giving up a revenue stream? It's not as if you'll decide to not fly somewhere, or use another airport. They have you by the @@lls and are happy to charge you whatever they can get away with.

      As it is, taking money from people whe choose to use the internet at airports is fine by me, as if reduces the other incidental costs I'd otherwise have to stump-up. Thanks for the subsidy!

    • If you travel, and ATT Uverse is in your area, get the service. You get your TV and home internet connnection, and also free access at airport, starbucks, and mcdonalds hotspots.
    • > It must change.

      Why?

    • by cdrguru (88047)

      You obviously haven't been taking advantage of all of the "Free Public WiFi" locations at airports these days. It is rare not to find several of these everywhere.

      Of course, it is a fake, but it works for harnessing the rubes.

  • Hey, it's important to me!

  • Airport food sucks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Monday May 25, 2009 @11:49AM (#28084123)

    In almost all western counties.........but check out Changi in Singapore. A GREAT airport. You don't get ripped off the food is fantastic!

    http://www.changiairport.com/changi/en/index.html [changiairport.com]

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Monday May 25, 2009 @11:56AM (#28084209)
    Surely it's possible for an individual to spend a few hours away from an internet connection?

    Even for a "business" user, you should be well enough organised that your employer can afford to be out of touch with you for a short period, without suffering catastrophic business failure (if not, they should fire you immediately as you are obviously a single point of failure and as such a total liability to the organisation).

    If you do suffer symptoms of stress or anxiety when disconnected from the 'net this sounds a lot like a personality disorder - even if you do use the old line: "No, really, I just like the internet. I could give up any time".

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AxeMan15 (451684)

      It is not about need but about choice.

      Being in an airport is not like hanging out at the local park. There are no birds singing or fresh gentle breezes caressing your face. It's many people milling about with the accompanying background noise, Homeland Security Threat Level "Orange" (has this ever changed?) and passenger Thelma Jones, get to your flight or you are S.O.L.

      I fly once every 3 weeks or so and I carry only my laptop, my book and a magazine. I find it difficult to read for pleasure within the airp

    • by pz (113803)

      Surely it's possible for an individual to spend a few hours away from an internet connection?

      Even for a "business" user, you should be well enough organised that your employer can afford to be out of touch with you for a short period, without suffering catastrophic business failure (if not, they should fire you immediately as you are obviously a single point of failure and as such a total liability to the organisation).

      If you do suffer symptoms of stress or anxiety when disconnected from the 'net this sounds a lot like a personality disorder - even if you do use the old line: "No, really, I just like the internet. I could give up any time".

      Sometimes, you just don't have a choice as to whether you need to take a trip, and whether you need to have a deliverable (report, email, presentation) delivered. Or, sometimes, you find that on the first leg of your N leg outbound journey that you've been able to make room for Important Graph 14 in your presentation, or you call your assistant back in the office and they've been able to dig up Important Table 3. These are just a couple of scenarios where, between flights, connectivity is, in fact, import

      • Sometimes, you just don't have a choice as to whether you need to take a trip, and whether you need to have a deliverable (report, email, presentation) delivered. Or, sometimes, you find that on the first leg of your N leg outbound journey that you've been able to make room for Important Graph 14 in your presentation, or you call your assistant back in the office and they've been able to dig up Important Table 3. These are just a couple of scenarios where, between flights, connectivity is, in fact, importan

  • Electrical outlets (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vadim Makarov (529622) <makarov@vad1.com> on Monday May 25, 2009 @12:44PM (#28084795) Homepage

    is the second most important thing. I'd even say it's the first one: I can live without internet, but to work offline I need to charge the laptop.

    At most airoports a few outlets in the waiting areas are at best inconveniently located (being designed for plugging cleaning machines rather than for traveller's use), and at worst unavailable. I've spent more than a few strolls down the halls trying to find a free outlet and a seat withing the reach of it.

    • by afabbro (33948)

      is the second most important thing. I'd even say it's the first one: I can live without internet, but to work offline I need to charge the laptop.

      Amen, brother! At big airports it's comical to see guys clustered around poles or walking around with their laptop and adapter in hand like circling vultures, waiting for a free outlet.

      It's really pathetic that airports don't have more places to charge. Every seat should have one. For that matter, so should every seat on a plane...

      • by seinman (463076) on Monday May 25, 2009 @01:40PM (#28085457) Homepage Journal
        Want to be the most popular guy at the airport? Throw a plug strip in your laptop bag. After turning two plugs into seven, all the tech addicts on the flight were buying me drinks. Good times.
        • by Stiletto (12066)

          Oh, God--I wish I hadn't already replied in this thread. Mod parent up 5x!! Awesome idea.

          (until the TSA classifies power strips as "choking devices")

      • by astrotek (132325)

        I take it you've never been on international flights when some guy blows the circuit to your row of the plane for a 8-12 hour flight. I can live without laptop power at your seat if it means I can have light.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eggman9713 (714915)
      That's not as bad as the last time I was in the Las Vegas airport a couple of years ago, but I actually found that most if not all of the outlets in the passenger gate areas did not function. I guess they turn off the breakers except when needed to keep people from stealing their power.
  • ... but when you traveling for the hell of it and have been stuck in the same airport for a day decent food becomes way more important that wifi and internet access.
  • Why father, I love you more than salt...

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