Home Airlines It’s Possible To Get Work Done On A Plane With No WiFi

It’s Possible To Get Work Done On A Plane With No WiFi

by joeheg

One of the comments from business travelers is they’ll only fly on airlines that provide WiFi onboard. That WiFi needs to be fast and it needs to be dependable. Paying a reasonable cost is a factor but if work is paying for the access then it’s not as much of an issue to these travelers.

I know there are people who hold jobs where they’re sending constant messages between one another, or where access to internet-based systems is necessary. Of course for them, WiFi is a dealbreaker. Sadly, not even if they pick the most reliable airline, there’s still a chance the WiFi won’t be in service, or might be working very slow on that flight.

But what about the rest of us? The ones who use the internet to work but don’t work on the internet? Can we still work on a plane?

I recently had a couple of hours to try and get some work done while flying. I managed to pull my head away from the window to grab my laptop.


I folded down my tray table, which was a workable size. We paid extra for the Stretch seats on Frontier and I opened up my laptop.


Yep, Still working on the ancient MacBook Air and not the brand new iPad Pro.

I decided maybe I’d try to write some articles. Of course, when I pulled up the browser tab for WordPress, it reminded me I had no internet connection.


I just tabbed through the open windows and ended up at a Google Docs file I had open. Amazingly, it was still there. Even crazier was that I could edit the document and it told the changes were being saved offline.

Normally, if I wanted to write anything while offline, I’d just go to my notepad, MS Word or even an email message to type. However, I’d prefer to write in Google Docs. I tried to open an entirely new document, and it worked.

I typed away until the end of the flight when I needed to shut down the computer (I copied all my work to an email, just in case this didn’t work).

When we got to the airport, I connected to the airport WiFi (thanks to Austin Airport for the great free WiFi). My Google Doc uploaded to my account as normal.

I was amazed that I could be working on a web-based app with no internet coverage. I looked into this and it’s a feature of Google Drive apps when used with the Chrome browser.

If you aren’t connected to the Internet, you can still view and edit files, including:

  • Google Docs
  • Google Sheets
  • Google Slides

Save and open Google Docs, Sheets & Slides offline

Before you turn on offline access

  • You must be connected to the internet.
  • You must use the Google Chrome browser.
  • Don’t use private browsing.
  • Install and turn on Google Docs Offline Chrome extension.
  • Make sure you have enough available space on your device to save your files.

Open Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides offline

  1. Open Chrome. Make sure you’re signed in to Chrome.
  2. Go to drive.google.com/drive/settings.
  3. Check the box next to “Sync Google Docs, Sheets, Slides & Drawings files to this computer so that you can edit offline.”

Save Google Docs, Sheets & Slides for offline use

  1. On your computer, go to drive.google.com.
  2. Right click the Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides file you want to save offline.
  3. Turn on “Available offline.”

To save multiple files offline, press Shift or Command (Mac)/Ctrl (Windows) while you click other files.

Preview offline files

  1. On your computer, go to drive.google.com.
    • Make sure you turn on offline access first.
  2. At the top right, click Ready for offline Ready for offline.
  3. Click Offline preview.

Final Thoughts

I may be the last one to know about this but after hearing so many complaints about not being able to work on planes with no WiFi, I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to get some work one on this flight. I didn’t have a power plug but since I had the WiFi and Bluetooth off, my battery only went down to 65% for the 2 hours of work

I was always able to work by just typing text into notepad but the process of copying and pasting the text, and lack of proper formatting just made everything so tedious. The ability to look at my current documents, edit them if necessary and compose completely new ones while offline is a new thing for me and one I’ll be using again in the future.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

1 comment

Gizmosdad August 15, 2019 - 6:57 pm

I actually prefer working on planes BECAUSE there is no wifi (at least not very reliable) — it’s a place where I won’t get interrupted by emails or asked questions via chat boxes, I don’t have much else to do other than sit in the chair, and therefore I have hours and hours of uninterrupted time that lets me focus on one thing at a time.
True Story:
A few years ago, my boss said “we need that report from you by the end of the week”, and my response was “okay, I’ll go ahead and will book a flight to Heathrow”. He looked confused and said “I thought you already received input from our London office” and my response was “I did; the purpose of the flight is to have 8 hours where I can concentrate because you won’t be interrupting me with other issues.”
He didn’t buy it…


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