Q: Our Internet-obsessed grandson will be travelling with us on our next flight. Do you know which airlines offer Wi-Fi onboard?
— M. Guo, Markham
A: Equipping aircraft with Wi-Fi is an expensive job, and Canadian airlines are a bit behind other countries when it comes to providing Internet access in the sky.
WestJet and Porter Airlines do not yet offer the service. Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick says Wi-Fi is currently only offered on two of its aircraft with service to the U.S., but the company is looking at options as technology evolves.
"Technology is changing very quickly so we are still assessing how we want to move forward on it. For example, new systems are lighter meaning significant savings in fuel and also new systems are being developed that could work over land and water," Fitzpatrick said.
I recently flew to Costa Rica on American Airlines, which offers Wi-Fi at a cost. My seatmate used the service for a while for her smartphone. Admittedly, reception at 10,668 metres was spotty at times but we were flying higher than Mt. Everest so it was hardly a surprise.
Peter Greenberg, travel editor for CBS News, recently concluded it’s a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to U.S. domestic carriers and the older the plane, the less likely it will have Wi-Fi.
"Budget carriers and newer airlines can also be hit or miss. For example, (the American low cost airline) AirTran offers no seat-back TVs, but give customers the option to purchase Wi-Fi," Greenberg wrote in his newsletter.
For a list of carriers offering Wi-Fi, see airportwifiguide.com and contact your airline to see if Wi-Fi is available and how much it costs.
Q: What’s the bar scene like in Vienna?
— N. Ignaccio, Toronto
A: Creativity and the Viennese sense of humour are reflected in the names and decor of some hip establishments.
For instance, the designers of posh Puff Bar installed 99 barstools on the ceiling — quite the conversation starter. Located in the city’s former red light district, the avant garde establishment is known for its highballs cocktails. On Gumpendorfer Strasse in the city’s sixth district, the If Dogs Run Free pub is the collaboration of an actress, a restaurateur, a graphic designer and two architects. The ceiling is dominated by huge orange and white triangles resembling upside down mountain peaks. For more on Vienna nightlife, visit wien.info and click on "lifestyle and scene" then "Viennese nightlife."