From being able to respond to work emails in the airport lounge and aboard the plane to using an app to hail a ride to the hotel and then another one for mobile check-in, business travelers have a heavy dependence on Wi-Fi connectivity during their journeys. It’s like the fuel that makes their trips go — until they find themselves stuck without gas. That kind of problem happens a lot.
There is such a high demand for fast-streaming Wi-Fi service that travel suppliers are having a tough time consistently meeting travelers’ always-on expectations. With more people logging in simultaneously, networks are becoming overloaded and delivering a painfully slow service.
Meanwhile, companies are struggling to stay on top of all the new products, services and plans that promise to provide exceptional service 30,000 feet up in the air or in a country outside their data plan. And we hate to even bring up the high fees.
Yes, business travelers have every right to gripe about poor connectivity issues. And so do we. We would just love for all our clients to be able to use our Amex GBT Mobile app and our Neo™ booking tool to receive travel updates wherever in the world they are.
With that in mind, today we have curated a few products and services that can help keep travelers connected.
We can’t talk about Wi-Fi connectivity on the road without first addressing the risk of using a shared public network, which can be insecure and the target of hackers. One of the best ways travelers can protect themselves is by using a virtual private network (VPN), which provides a secure, encrypted connection. And one of the best providers out there is Nord VPN, which “earned a rare five-star rating” from PC Magazine and is the publication’s top pick for VPNs in 2017. Regularly $11.95 a month, the subscription is available for $3.29 for PC Mag visitors.
A note to travel managers: Even if your company already has set up employees with a VPN, it’s always good to remind travelers about the importance of using it when on their trips — including in their hotel rooms — as well as provide instructions (again) on how to access the network.
And for more tips on how travelers can protect themselves against cybersecurity attacks, check out this other Atlas article.
Twenty years after Wi-Fi was released and it’s still not available on every single plane? Thankfully, you can find out if your aircraft indeed does have access by checking SeatGuru’s seat map. You also can see what type of power port is at your assigned seat, if any at all. After all, it won’t be worth buying a Wi-Fi pass if your tablet’s out of juice and there’s nowhere to plug in.
Gogo is the primary provider of in-flight Wi-Fi within North America. While rates are a bit expensive — an hourly pass goes for $7 and monthly airline plans start at $49.95 — we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the special deal our legacy company, American Express, has for its OPEN and corporate cardholders.
In a nutshell, an eligible cardholder can enjoy 10 complimentary in-flight internet passes each calendar year. For full details, click here.
Teppy is a global mobile hotspot that works similarly to your wireless router at home. When turned on, it creates a wireless hotspot that anyone in the vicinity with your password can connect to.
And because Teppy is small and portable — it can fit in your pocket — it’s a perfect travel companion. What’s more, it doesn’t require any setup, cables or installation. Simply turn on and connect to your smartphone, laptop or tablet.
Unlimited Wi-Fi service is available in over 100 countries. The device itself costs $99, which includes three free day passes. It’s a pay-as-you-use system with daily passes going for $8.95.
Hotel Wi-Fi Test
Hotels aren’t necessarily known for lightning-fast internet speed. And no one wants to deal with constant buffering and slow speeds that limit browsing and downloading. But at least now you can see what kind of connection to expect before making your booking.
That’s where Hotel Wi-Fi Test comes in. The website allows travelers to check the Wi-Fi coverage at properties all across the world, which have been tested and recorded by previous guests. And for those who are currently in a hotel, it automatically can pinpoint your location and help run a speed test to see what the signal strength is, so you won’t be second-guessing whether it’s the connection or your device that’s the problem.
Boingo offers consumers Wi-Fi access on any of their devices in more than one million hotspots worldwide, including airports, hotels and cafes. Plans start at $9.95 per month but, once again, there is a special offer for American Express cardholders.
According to the American Express site, eligible cardholders can receive one complimentary membership with unlimited Wi-Fi access at global hotspots with access on up to four devices.
Now there is just one little downside to all the products and apps we mentioned above. Business travelers will have to come up with a different excuse when they’re out of touch with the office!