Tim Roxborogh’s travel bugs: I don’t want Wi-Fi on planes!

A weekly ode to the joys of moaning about your holidays.

This column may come back to haunt me, but as is trendy to say these days, at least I’ll know I was “speaking my truth”. And “my truth” in 2018 is that I don’t want Wi-Fi on planes. Stop telling me how awesome your airline is with its fancy new on-board Wi-Fi, because for the past half a dozen years or so, flying has been one of the few times I’ve been forced to turn my phone off. It’s been such a relief, but those days of blessed compulsory detachment from the small screens in our pockets are numbered.

So yes, technology is advancing and having to do without your phone at 35,000 feet is becoming a thing of the past. Given my phone addiction and a lack of self-control, the loosening of rules regarding devices on planes is cause for anxiety. And yet we’re all meant to think it’s great!

So great, it would seem, that Qantas has announced it is doing away with in-flight music on domestic routes with the axe possibly hanging over international services too. The reasons boil down to a couple of intertwined factors: (a) only 10 per cent of Qantas customers listen to the in-flight music; and (b) if people do want music, they are listening to it on their own devices.

For a start, I would’ve thought 10 per cent was actually a reasonable number. Given in-flight music is competing with all the other seat-back options such as movies, TV shows and computer games, isn’t 10 per cent for the music a decent chunk? Especially when you add all the other possibilities to pass the time — looking out the window, eating, reading, sleeping and talking to the stranger next to you with the bad case of halitosis.

As for the convenience of using our own phones to listen to the playlists we’ve made, what happened to the fun of being exposed to other music? Or even if you’re bopping along to your favourite band — a band you already have on your phone — at least if you’re doing it through the seat-back your brain is having a break from the phone.

Besides, your favourite band always sounds better when somebody else has chosen it for you. As in, flipping through in the in-flight music library and finding the Bee Gees is more exciting for me than just using my phone to listen to them. I love me some Barry, Robin and Maurice and seeing that somebody else likes them enough to bung them in as one of the in-flight selections validates my fan-ship. It’s partly why your most-loved songs always sound better on the radio than if you listen to them at home.

Don’t stop the music, Qantas! And may the 2028 version of me not think this anti-Wi-Fi opinion piece too quaint.

When complaining about your room works

I’ve stood at hotel check-in counters, embarrassed for my fellow man, listening as the people in front of me aggressively rattle off a list of complaints about their room. These people have often struck me not just as serial complainers, but borderline con-artists. Their goal upon check-in is a flasher room free of charge and they are unaware politeness is just as likely to get them there as are threats of bad TripAdvisor reviews.

I’ll ask for upgrades, but always with a smile on my face and only a handful of times because there was something wrong with the room. Recently, in Sri Lanka, we checked into a room that had an overwhelming smell of wet dog. It was a nice — if smallish — room with stunning views of Kandy’s green hills. But that smell; it was like Lassie had escaped to Asia and come back home via a trip down the Ganges.

Still, I felt like a jerk complaining. Plucking up some courage, I spoke to reception. I smiled, I apologised and no mention of TripAdvisor was made. And you know what? 15 minutes later we were being driven in a golf buggy to an entire Portuguese-style bungalow with a private garden and pool! The guilt I felt was immense until
it wasn’t.

Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB’s Weekend Collective 3pm-6pm and blogs at RoxboroghReport.com

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