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Digital Life

Would you choose in-flight WiFi over using the bathroom?

What would you give up to access the internet on an airplane? Some people are willing to give up a lot -- including going to the bathroom.

According to a piece in Fortune, a survey by the aerospace division of technology company Honeywell found that passengers want high-quality, good-as-on-the-ground WiFi on their flights -- and would sacrifice a lot for it.

How great? When asked what other amenities they'd be willing to forego for WiFi, 60 percent of passengers surveyed said they'd be willing to give up reclining seats (understandable; they don't go very far). A similarly high number of passengers were willing to give up preferred seats, fast food and beverage service, and were even willing to sit next to a screaming baby. That wouldn't make TV show streaming or Skype use very easy, but still...

Here's where it gets crazier. About 25 percent of passengers surveyed said they'd be willing to give up six inches of legroom. If you're flying business class, that's...most of the legroom right there. Are you willing to fly sitting in a lotus position? Maybe it's almost there already.

The bit that had our jaws on the floor was this statistic: 13 percent of Americans, 17 percent of Brits, and 22 percent of Singaporeans surveyed were willing to give up bathroom privileges for high-quality WiFi.

Think about that for a moment.

Why WiFi? When you're on a plane, you're typically missing a ton of emails, on-the-ground news, and countless planning opportunities for what to do when you reach your destination. That's not counting businessmen and women who rely on internet and phone access to get updates and make deals. The Fortune article even mentions people planning weddings and divorces while in the air.

Life around you doesn't stop because you're on a plane -- though a large dose of perspective might be necessary here.

The desire for in-flight WiFi has been a storm of controversy, to the extent that noted comedian/Renaissance man Louis CK took note of this during an episode of Conan to point out that being in a metal tube that transports people through the air at hundreds of miles per hour is a privilege that would have been unthinkable to past generations, let alone being able to access all knowledge through a small electronic device.

There are other options for in-flight entertainment, such as strange, paper-filled objects called "books" that served as ancestors to the Kindle. There are also devices known as "magazines" that contain long stories about literature and/or celebrity gossip, many of which are available for purchase alongside overpriced candy bars at various airport vestibules.

Let us assure you: Not going to the bathroom might seem like a small sacrifice, but when there's three hours until you land and you've enjoyed a complimentary beverage, that WiFi isn't going to seem like such a necessity.

That said, recent experiences have put us in favor of wider aisles, more legroom, and other things we'd probably be able to enjoy if we could afford First Class.

Still -- no bathrooms? Good luck getting through an international flight, travelers.

Photo: Chad Magiera