Flight passengers crave for wi-fi

Traveller priorities revealed

Inflight broadband is changing the airline industry and revolutionising passengers’ expectations of the onboard experience. That is the conclusion from the third annual global Inflight Connectivity Survey, published today by Inmarsat (LSE: ISAT.L), the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, in association with market research company GfK.

Overwhelmingly, passengers now expect the same levels of connectivity and access to online services whilst they are at 30,000 feet as they receive on the ground. As such, 71 per cent of European passengers who have used inflight Wi-Fi say that it is now a necessity rather than a luxury. The majority (61 per cent) of European passengers who have experienced high-quality inflight Wi-Fi rate it higher on their list of priorities than inflight entertainment when choosing an airline. 

With airlines in every market racing to install or upgrade their Wi-Fi offering, passengers will have a choice to opt for an airline that offers high-quality broadband, and will soon turn their back on airlines not offering this. A third of British respondents (33 per cent) who have used inflight Wi-Fi said they would stop using their preferred airline within the next year if it did not offer connectivity enabling them to stream or browse online without interruption.   

The ability to connect to personal devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets now sits within the top three considerations when choosing an airline, behind ticket price (53 per cent) and flight slots (44 per cent) for 40 per cent of passengers who have used inflight Wi-Fi.

What’s more, the ability to remain online and work during a flight is greatly improving passenger experience, according to almost half (49 per cent) of European business travellers who have previously used inflight Wi-Fi. 

The survey reflects the responses of 9,000 airline passengers from 18 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and North and Latin America, and is the largest global passenger survey of its kind.

Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “High-quality inflight Wi-Fi is changing the way people think about flying and how they spend their time in the air. Whether using the time to work, to connect with friends and family, or to pass time shopping or viewing entertainment, the availability of inflight broadband has become a major factor when choosing an airline.”

He continued: “The annual Inflight Connectivity Survey has become a barometer for passenger sentiment. This year’s survey reveals that 71 per cent of European passengers who have tried inflight Wi-Fi believe that it’s a necessity and no longer a luxury. This will only increase as more people experience inflight connectivity. It is clear the opportunity that connectivity presents to airlines cannot be underestimated.”

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