Photo of a man doing a crossword puzzle during a flight.
It might be tempting to use the time inflight to do a crossword. But you. may be able to get some work done too. (Photo: Canva)

You’re stuck on a plane for a couple of hours. You could catch up on some sleep, or catch up on a few episodes of whatever you’re watching on Netflix. Or, you could use the time up there to get some work done.

Working on flights isn’t what it used to be. In the days before the internet, working on a flight was more about reading reams of paper and writing notes in notepads to hand to someone to transcribe and type for you when you got to your destination.

These days there’s in-flight WIFI depending on who you’re flying, and a tray table that can comfortably fit a laptop computer without too much yoga positioning in your seat.

When you’ve got internet on your flight

At the time of writing this, only Qantas is offering inflight WIFI. Virgin Australia is working to restore their service since they were resurrected from insolvency. Rex is still getting started on non-regional routes and Jetstar has no intention of ever adding anything that they don’t have to.

But if you do get inflight WIFI there are some things that it’s great for and some things that’s it not so great for.

For example, Zoom calls… forget it. Inflight WIFI is using satellite internet, which means that you may get a semi-decent amount of bandwidth to download, but you’re not getting enough pipe going back up to space to give you a decent connection. The lag is terrible and even if you turn off your video, it’s still not going to work. Inflight WIFI just isn’t made for this kind of thing. It’s made for simple stuff, and inbound streaming. So while you might get an ok connection for YouTube and watching something on Disney+, you’re not going to be able to handle a Clubhouse room or a Zoom video call any time soon.

No WIFI? No worries.

While the more enlightened and Zen amongst us may preach that time in the air is a chance to connect with the earth goddess or the universal consciousness or something like that, the rest of us still have work to do.

While you’re in the air and unable to connect, you can do a whole lot of other work. I personally use my Virgin and Jetstar flights to write my blogs and podcast scripts. I don’t need to research anything as I’m writing from my own experience and knowledge. So there is no need to Google anything, or refer to any sources elsewhere on the internet to put together what I’m doing. In fact, over a 2 hour flight, I get time to write about four days-worth of podcasts and blog content. But what about you?

If you’re running Microsoft Outlook for your email, then you can answer emails, compose new ones and read through your archive for information on reports. It’s only when you want to get new email or send an email that you need the internet. And all those new emails are sitting in the cloud waiting to download when you land. The same applies for those that you are wanting to send.

And you don’t need the internet to write a report, a blog, a memo or an instructional presentation on Powerpoint. Even if you’re not using Microsoft’s office suite, Google’s Workspace lets you work offline in the Chrome browser so you can write documents, make presentations and calculate formulas in spreadsheets without needing an internet connection at the time.

So without the internet, you can still do plenty of stuff on the laptop while you’re flying so you can keep that working ticking over while you’re up in the sky screaming across the heavens on your way to wherever you’re going. So why not take advantage of the downtime and… well… not take any downtime at all?