With Americans making more than 405 million long distance business trips per year, the airplane has become a mobile office and media center, driving demand for connectivity to the web and email in the skies. It’s a call that airlines have heeded in recent years, with airlines like Delta offering Wi-Fi on laptops, tablets, and smartphones through the inflight internet service Gogo, which serves 2 million customers per month. To the delight of online speed-seekers, the provider recently announced plans to launch the satellite-based system 2ku, which promises to deliver 70 megabits per second—22 times faster than current speeds available.
And soon inflight communications won’t just be limited to emails—texting is the next frontier that airlines are exploring, with T-Mobile already offering customers the ability to send and receive texts for free from 30,000 feet in Gogo-equipped flights.
If you happen not to be able to get online—or simply don’t feel like fielding the latest missives from HQ—there’s still plenty to do, thanks to a number of apps and services available on electronic devices. Write and respond to emails in Gmail’s offline mode, and they’ll automatically be sent as soon as you’re reconnected. Opt for the premium level of the music streaming service Spotify and build extensive playlists that you can then listen to while offline. Use apps like Pocket and Instapaper to save longform articles or whole webpages for disconnected reading. Another option is audiobook seller Audible, which lets you take in a book like take in a book like Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s new release, When to Rob a Bank, narrated by the Freakonomics authors themselves.
Antonio Galloni, former chief wine critic of Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate and founder of digital wine platform Vinous, travels up to six months a year, visiting vineyards and hosting tastings all around the world, so he’s got his inflight routine down pat. “My iPad is an essential tool that lets me monitor and manage all aspects of Vinous’s business remotely,” he says. An early career as a musician taught him the value of technological redundancies: “I travel with two of everything. Laptops, phones, adaptors, and cables.”
If you’re looking to tune out the noise on flights, Bang & Olufsen also make a high-end model ideal for traveling: the new BeoPlay H8 wireless headphones feature a touch interface to adjust and change tracks and the ability to flick active noise-cancellation on or off easily.
Sometimes the best use of your time in the air is just relaxing. The free Airsleep app uses a combination of natural, ambient and slow-wave sounds to help you sink into a meditative state—or a nap. The iPad app Zen Space displays a digital zen garden, where you can drag rakes across a screen of sand, accentuated with rocks and leaves, while listening to the sounds of nature. On the other hand, the cool Glass Bottom Jet™ feature on the Fly Delta® app provides a dose of reality: watch your flight soaring over the topography directly below you on an interactive map, complete with landmarks and updates from social media.
This article was produced on behalf of Delta Air Lines by the Quartz marketing team and not by the Quartz editorial staff.