Train operator blames Covid for restricting WiFi to premium seats

The wireless internet on Eurostar trains was briefly turned off for passengers unless they were in premium seating, reports the BBC. Challenged by passengers, the company claims this was because of Coronavirus, but turned it back on again.

Mark Jackson, founder of the internet service provider site ISPreview, said … the wi-fi is provided by a track-side network of mobile broadband cells and it was unclear how additional safety measures introduced as a result of coronavirus would impact its delivery to standard seats.

I'm glad this too-obvious attempt to use Covid to push customers to upgrades was brought quickly to a halt, but the fact it happened at all is alarming. This is a bellwether for what happens to the consumer economy under a continuing pandemic: the airlinification of all things. Two levels of service, "expensive" and "exorbitant", with the former made increasingly uncomfortable and hostile until it serves only captive markets and the first-class service is the only one involving willing users. It's easy to roll your eyes now; but this is how public transport and education will end up. It's how access to food ends up. It's how everything ends up.