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Why doesn’t Korean Air offer in-flight Wi-Fi? Because it sucks, a top executive says

Honesty may be the best policy, but it is almost certainly not the best PR. That said, you do have to appreciate the straightforward approach taken by Dante Dionne, senior innovation technology officer at Korean Air, when it came to discussing why the airline has yet to offer in-flight Wi-Fi. The reasoning is simple — that Wi-Fi just ain’t good.

Sure, we may be accustomed to U.S. airlines like United, Delta, and JetBlue claiming to offer network connectivity thousands of feet in the air, but unless your idea of Wi-Fi is somehow stuck in the mid 1990’s, you’re probably none too pleased with the quality of your connection. That’s why Korean Air has firmly refused to even pretend to offer in-flight Wi-Fi.

In an interview with APEX Magazine, Dionee was asked, “How do content and entertainment expectations change for people when they are traveling?” His answer was simple (and we would say, correct): “I believe that passengers have similar expectations for in-flight and on-ground content and connectivity options,” the executive noted. As such, getting anything less than their expectations would be “disappointing.”

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This would likely be especially true in a country like South Korea, which has long boasted some of the fastest internet speeds in the world. Dionne said that ” … in Korea, the wireless infrastructure is so advanced (significantly faster than the U.S. average) that in-flight Internet services based on existing commercial satellite technology would be disappointing to them. That is a primary reason why Korean Air has not implemented in-flight Internet.”

It’s really not an altogether ludicrous statement (though it does seem a bit extreme). For example, whereas the average peak internet speed in South Korea stands at 95.3 Mbps (seriously), GoGo’s ATG-4 in-flight Wi-Fi service hits just 9.8 Mbps. And once you go fast, you really can’t go back.

So apparently, Korean Air’s approach is simply, “Why bother?”