In a few short months--about 18 to be exact--domestic flights will sport Internet access: But what about the power? When you finally have bits descending from the sky, how, I cry, will you keep your laptop juiced? There's a fundamental disconnect between adding wireless technologies to planes--cell eventually and Wi-Fi sooner--and then asking for more wires with which to charge your wireless units.
In fact, airlines have enormous motivations to not rewire planes. It costs a small fortune per plane, and set-back video devices have proven tremendously expensive to maintain, while people get mad when the device in front of their face is the one that's broken. There's also some concern that older forms of wiring could have been responsible for certain air crashes, such as the SwissAir flight that took the life of hundreds, including one of my college classmates and her family.
While Tesla might have said, just push electricity through the air (or, rather, ground), we haven't achieved that glorious state yet. The Inflight USB Power Unit is quite interesting as it pulls a trickle charge from the audio plug to provide minimal but useful power to handheld devices and music players. it's probably two orders of magnitude below what's needed for laptops.
There are external battery packs that typically weigh just a few pounds, but cost $200 to $400 for from three to 10 hours of additional power. A second replaceable internal battery often runs $100 or more, and provides two to four hours of additional power.
The ultimate irony is that a jetsetting road warrior (an oxymoron, I know) who makes the best use of the longest flights could find themselves packing extra gear to use a wireless connection unless they can afford the glorious business or first class sections which, on certain planes, offer an actual power feed.