Inflight Connectivity Continues to Soar

The fact that much of the Western world spends too much time glaring at screens, surfing the net, and scrolling on social media apps is a topic that is often discussed. One of the few times that people used to be forced to unplug was while on board a flight. In recent years, however, connecting to an airline’s WiFi has become much more common, a service that used to be accessed primarily by busy businesspeople.

How does this advanced technology actually work?

There are two main types of inflight internet connectivity, one which uses antennas and the other that relies on satellites.

The first category is widely known as air-to-ground (ATG). Using this method, an antenna on the aircraft catches signals from cellphone towers on land. A major drawback is that the quality of the connection depends on the location of the aircraft at a given moment – for example, when flying over an ocean or a desert, service will drop as there is greater distance between the plane’s antennas and the cellphone towers. For this reason, many airlines are making the switch to satellite-based connections. Using satellites, the signal remains stronger no matter the location or movement of the aircraft.

While satellites resolve some of the major disadvantages of ATG, that system requires constant upkeep and advancements of the network. It is much simpler, faster, and cheaper to install new cellular towers than to launch a new satellite into space.

While the mere fact that such services exist is remarkable, there are a lot of improvements that need to happen in terms of expanding network service and speed. As with all technologies, it is likely just a matter of time till we see more impressive developments.

American Airlines to Buy Supersonic Jets

In a bold move, American Airlines has put down a deposit to purchase 20 supersonic jets from Boom Supersonic.

Boom is in the process of developing an aircraft called Overture, expected to be officially completed and released in 2025. Overture can travel at almost twice the speed of sound, and is designed to fit 65 to 80 passengers. While the company recently released a sophisticated version of the jet, Overture is still in the early development stages and has not yet run a test flight.

Overture, however, is not the first of its kind. The Concorde was a supersonic jet with routes across the Atlantic Ocean, primarily between London and New York City. In 2003, the ultra-speedy aircraft was forced to halt its services. With seat prices reaching a steep $10,000 per person, and deafening engines preventing the jet from flying over land, use of the Concorde was unsustainable. Although many have asserted that high-speed jets won’t make a comeback for these reasons, airlines seem confident enough in their return to be investing in them. Prior to the current American Airlines purchase, United Airlines had publicized its plans last year to buy up to 15 supersonic jets from Boom.

Despite previous economic failures of the aircrafts, the US government has shown support for bringing supersonic jets back and the FAA is devising new sets of code regarding noise levels over land. While Boom hopes its jets can begin running by 2029, the aircrafts and routes will need to be approved.

Although it is still unclear whether or not Overture will be approved for flying, the possibility is exciting. Many would love the opportunity to reach London from Miami in less than five hours, or to travel from Los Angeles to Honolulu in just three hours.

Only time will tell what the likelihood is for supersonic jets to fill the airspace…let alone the price tag!

Record High for Rentals in Manhattan

Have you always dreamed of living in the big city? Now may not be the time.

For the sixth month in a row, apartment rental prices in Manhattan have reached a record high. With the median rate last month at $4,150 per month, rentals have climbed 2.5% since June and a whopping 29% from just one year ago. Renters are currently shelling out an average of $5,113 per month.

According to Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers and Consultants, rent prices are expected to soar even higher this month as August is generally peak season. It is unclear what to expect from September, though. If the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates with the hope to curb inflation, the possibility of a recession will become more of a reality. In this situation, layoffs would be expected and demand for Manhattan rentals may decline, which would likely result in an ease on prices. However, Miller expects that rent prices will continue to climb till the year’s end, perhaps at a slower rate.

While rentals are in high demand, the dream of many to become homeowners is being put on hold. Rising mortgage rates are making the possibility of buying now impossible for many. With the current average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage now at 5.81%, families are opting out. With less buyers, the rental market is seeing extra added pressure, contributing to the increase in rates.

As the economy continues fluctuate in so many areas, the housing market will swing along accordingly. With the end of year gradually approaching, it will be interesting to see what develops. As Miller has asserted, “…it is going to come down to external factors like unemployment and hard landing to see what happens next.”

Largest Four-Day Workweek Trial Underway

Recently, there has been a demand by employees to cut back on days in the office. After two years of the pandemic, people want to work from home, spend more time with loved ones, and just have more flexibility in general. While many companies have adopted the hybrid model to accommodate these sentiments, some have taken a more extreme stance.

For the past 8 weeks, the world’s largest four-day workweek trial has been running in England. About 3,300 employees from 73 different companies have taken on the task of producing 100% while working only 80%, still earning their regular salary. And while this endeavor does come with some inherent challenges, an overwhelming majority of participants are absolutely loving it.

The program is being spearheaded by the nonprofit “4 Day Week Global.” Andrew Barnes, the organization’s founder, has been advocating for a four-day workweek since 2017. In his own organization’s trial, he found that when working four days instead of the traditional five-day model, his employees demonstrated a productivity rate 25% higher than before.

During the initial stages, many companies struggled to set themselves up for the experiment. Samantha Losey, managing director at Unity public relations firm, called the first week “chaotic.” However, she explained, she and her team quickly instituted some systems that enabled continued productivity throughout the four-day workweek. All internal meetings are limited to 5 minutes, while client meetings end after 30 minutes. A “traffic light” system ensures workers are not interrupted unnecessarily – if a colleague’s desk light is set to green, they’re available for a chat; if the light is orange, they’re busy but available if needed; and if the light is red, they cannot be disturbed.

In addition to positive reports from employers, participating employees have given very favorable feedback. Many are appreciative of the extra time they can devote to other important things in their lives besides for work, such as family, mental health, exercise, and extracurricular activities.

It will be interesting to see continued outcomes from the big four-day workweek trial as time goes on. The results may have life-changing outcomes on work-life balance, company culture, employers, and employees.

“What Would You Do for a Klondike Bar?”

After 40 years on the market, the Klondike Choco Taco ice cream bar is being discontinued.

The company, which is owned by Unilever, explained that consumers have shown increased interest in many of its other products. In order to ensure enough supply of those items, Klondike has had to make significant decisions.

While the reasoning behind the decision is a positive one, nostalgic customers are disappointed. In addition to leaving a mix of disgruntled, funny, and emotional comments on Klondike’s Twitter account, fans have rushed to stores before it’s too late. Many shops have been bought out of Choco Taco.

If it is any consolation, Klondike has alluded that there is hope that the beloved ice cream bar will make its way back to ice cream trucks in the future. In the meantime, people can continue to enjoy the summer with the signature Klondike bar, as well as cones and shakes.