Want to make every minute count, even when you?re in the air? Roulla Yiacoumi explains how to make sure that when you take off, your technology also buckles its seat belt and knows the brace position.

There are times when a long plane trip means a chance to kick off your shoes, recline into an airline seat and get stuck into a mindless movie.

There are also times when reports must be written, emails sorted and presentations revised no matter where you are. And happily, today?s airlines make this possible.

Laptops in the air

The one essential for powering through a pile of work on a plane is a laptop computer. Business class travellers on most airlines have the luxury of being able to plug into AC power and type for hours on end. Those sitting in economy will often be limited to the life of their battery, but that can be extended by considering the ?cell? count of the battery. Many laptops offer only a four-cell battery when you buy them, but eight, or nine-cell batteries give you around eight to 10 hours of power, making them a clever upgrade.

Other ways to conserve battery life include dimming your screen and making sure Wi-Fi is switched off.

Connectivity

If you have instant news you want to share, or a message for the person picking you up from the airport, sending an instant message is the instinctive thing to do. Telstra is currently conducting a trial with Qantas to allow passengers to send SMS and email messages while in the air (special charges apply). The trial is currently running on one domestic plane.

Emirates Airlines is taking in-flight connections a step further in its trial to allow passengers to make voice calls from their mobile phones on board its aircraft. This issue is proving controversial, as travellers worldwide have expressed their  dissatisfaction at the prospect of suffering through loud and excruciating mobile phone conversations.

On the TV front, if you want to follow the daily news, stock prices, or sporting results while sky-high, Virgin Blue offers its passengers live television in the form of 24 Foxtel channels. The cost is $6 for most flights.

If you need to catch up on some podcasts or view your stored contacts, most mobile phones can be used in ?flight mode?, which means your phone can be set to do everything except make and receive calls. Before commencing the descent into your arrival city, make sure you take your phone down from the overhead locker and keep it somewhere handy.

Some airlines, such as Qantas and American Airlines, allow you to switch on your phone shortly after touching down. In the few minutes it takes to taxi to the gate, you can listen to your messages or make a call to the office… if your phone is in your pocket instead of in the overhead bin!

Tools and gadgets

The next wave of in-flight work tools will make it possible for anyone to work, with or without their laptop. When Singapore Airlines introduces its first A380 aircraft on the Sydney-Singapore route from October 2007, working travellers will find a useful addition to the airline?s KrisWorld in-flight entertainment system: a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation application.

Qantas has promised similar systems as of 2008, with its new aircraft to feature USB and network ports in each seat, plus in-flight internet access.

iPod users can also have fun aloft. Apple has announced that six airlines, including Emirates, Continental and Air France, will shortly offer iPod connectivity and the ability to view stored video files on the larger back-of-seat display.

Sick of noise?

Some airlines are starting to offer noise cancelling headphones as a way to eliminate background noise so that passengers can work in peace. They have the unfortunate side effect of inducing nausea in some people, so take care.

Source: Australian GO source