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Leave the Wi-Fi Off When Flying

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I remember when I saw the first advertisements for in-flight Wi-Fi. People applauded and cheered. I now see tweets from people complaining about flights that don’t have it.

Recently, I was flying out to BlogWorld and some of my fellow companions on the flight were shocked to learn that I hadn’t logged in during the 6-hour journey. It was then that I explained to them why I don’t do it.

As a workshifter, it is in our DNA to always be connected. While we may mentally unplug to do some activities, the refresh button on our Twitter stream or inbox is a quick click away, and most of us are a slave to it.

I look at flights as blocks of completely uninterrupted time that I can do whatever I want with. I’m usually traveling alone and thus have the entire flight to reflect on my own thoughts and goals.

Here are some things I usually do with this magic time:

Catch up on email.

I download my mail before boarding. I’ll respond to those emails that I’ve been neglecting as well as file things that have been sitting in my inbox. When I land and reconnect, everything syncs up.

Write a few blog posts.

We all have those topics we’ve been meaning to write about but for whatever reason never get around to. I try to write a few of these while I’m in the air. Having no distractions means I can focus better than when I can sitting at my desk.


We should all be making the time to read every day, but even as I type this, I’m laughing at myself since I always seem to forget it. My Kindle is full of books that I want to get to, and I’ve always got a stack of magazines I want to read. I try to make sure that I take at least some of it to read while on flights. I’ve never heard anyone say they read too much.


On a flight, pure relaxation for me is watching a movie or television show. When was the last time you watched something without a laptop or phone nearby? Trust me, this will do a world of good for you (especially on a long flight).

I’d love to hear from others out there. Am I the only one who enjoys being disconnected while flying?

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C.C. Chapman is a leader in the online and social media marketing space. He is an avid photographer, author and keynote speaker. His most recent book (with Ann Handley) Content Rules, is a best seller that explains how companies can create remarkable blogs, podcasts, webinars, ebooks and more. C.C. is an advocate who speaks about building passionate consumer communities, and the strategic values of content-based marketing. He is the host of Passion Hit TV and the founder of Digital Dads. C.C. is a graduate of Bentley University and happily lives in the woods outside of Boston with his loving family.
  • http://twitter.com/RyanCorner Ryan Berry

    Excellent article! This is the sole reason why I love flying these days – the fact that I’m not connected. In Europe there are no WiFi enabled planes (to the best of my knowledge) and so it is a few hours of pure disconnected bliss. I do the same as you – I download my mail before boarding and try and catch up with things I’ve put off for a while. The last few flights though I’ve just read my Kindle and listened to music; we all need to relax and it enables us to get *more* done as we are in a better frame of mind. I find it sad though that the only way to be truly disconnected these days is to be 35,000ft in the air…and even that is changing.

  • Paul Jones

    This post serves as a warning that being a slave to Wi-Fi
    might not be the most efficient use of one’s time. Recently I re-evaluated the
    need and cost for me be constantly connected. What I discovered is that I could
    turn off my blackberry, log out of my office’s internet connections and turn
    them on every hour or so and not miss a beat. My junkie habit of always “checking
    to see what I might be missing” was taking value time away from what I should
    be doing…working with pen and pencil in hand and making money the old fashion
    way. Now when I travel and commute my electronic devices are stored away. Work Shifting
    allows me to work anywhere at anytime. It is important not to be in the office

  • Laptop Nomad

    This is what I do. I read or the watch IFE. It is my time to unwind and think without the hassles of phone calls, e-mails and other interruptions, I can always wait till I land if I have a long layover to catch up without being connected in the air, This is why we workshift we can be connected wherever we are in the world.

  • http://www.enterdialogue.com Tyson Goodridge

    Couldn’t agree more. Took the words right out of my mouth. In our always-connected world, it’s nice (and essential!) to unplug. It’s the PERFECT time to write a blog post as you are completely undistracted. It’s a great time to connect with a fellow-flyer. On my flight to SXSW this year (same one you were on!) I met with a great contact in Boston who has since shared great contacts and networking opportunities. Wouldn’t have done so if I was a slave to email…

    While we’re on the topic, and in vacation mode, I do the same when travelling and
    relaxing. Bring BOOKS on vacation, turn off the phone, and go analog (and maybe sneak in a few pics on Instagram… :-)

  • Jo Linehan

    I too love the article (and learning that planes outside Europe have WiFI…why don’t we have it!) but having read it and the comments so far I wondered why being on a plane meant you gave yourself ‘permission’ to disconnect? If you find your productivity/effectiveness increases following these time blocks, what would prevent you from incorporating them into your time spent on the ground? My company has been working with a UK organisation called Working Families recently to look at how introducing flexible working conditions can positively effect the bottom line. They shared research around Ultradian Performance Rhythms which show that for the brain to sustain a peak level of performance for pro-longed periods of time you should have 90-120 mintues of concentrated activity and a total rest period of 20 minutes before starting again etc. When the mind is forced to work through the rest periods the crest of your peak performance diminishes gradually throughout the day. In my opinion we have the business technology to allow 24hr connectivity but we need a mind-set change to be a top performer in that world.