The intrinsic horror of this kind of trip was mitigated somewhat by learning that the plane had WiFi available for $5.95 per flight. I've somehow always missed flights that featured this, but finally hit the jackpot last night. I did sleep for a few hours along the way, but spent at lot of time at both ends of the flight consuming internettage via my iPhone 3GS.
The bandwidth was not too shabby. Here's a speedtest.net screenshot from not too long after takeoff:
My brother's family awoke to a pile of short messages and screenshots sent during the flight, such as the following:
Somewhere over Pennsylvania, I checked the bandwidth again. Much zippier downloads this time, probably because all of the other bandwidth hogs were now lying obtunded elsewhere in the plane.
Of course, your mileage may vary -- things might be a lot different during a blue-eye flight, when a whole planeload hits YouTube at the same time.
Hopefully, WiFi up high will soon spread to most major flights. I would love to used to this service, and think $6/flight is a good value. I just hope I never get as jaded as the dudes nailed by Louis CK below...