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Survey Suggests People Want In-Flight Wi-Fi

TMCnet Feature

July 24, 2014

Survey Suggests People Want In-Flight Wi-Fi

By Gary Kim
Contributing Editor

Have you ever paid more for a flight than you had to, to gain access to in-flight Wi-Fi? Would you switch airlines? Would you give up preferred seating or extra legroom to get a faster and more consistent Wi-Fi connection in flight?

According to a survey sponsored by Honeywell (News - Alert), about 22 percent of respondents say they’ve paid more for a flight with in-flight Wi-Fi, even if a less-costly flight was available.

Some 17 percent of respondents claim they switched from their preferred airline because another carrier had better Wi-Fi offerings.

The 2013 Wireless Connectivity survey found that  almost 90 percent of fliers would give up an amenity on their flight--preferred seats, extra legroom and more--to be guaranteed a faster and more consistent wireless connection.

The 2014 Honeywell survey was conducted by Kelton among more than 1,000 adults in the United States who have used Wi-Fi on planes within the past 12 months.

The 2013 survey found more than 33 percent of U.S. fliers and Singaporeans and nearly half of Britons who would give up a preferred seat for a better Internet connection.

Almost 66 percent of passengers would rather have access to fast in-flight Wi-Fi that allows them to stream video and music than sit in their preferred seat.

With the caveat that responses on such consumer surveys often do not correspond with actual behavior, the polls do suggest some demand for Wi-Fi and better Wi-Fi in flight.

The latest survey found that in-flight Wi-Fi availability influences flight selection for 66 percent of passengers. Some 37 percent would be upset if they didn’t have Wi-Fi access on their next flight, which is about the same amount (35 percent) as those who would be disappointed about not having food or drinks available for purchase.

About 85 percent would use Wi-Fi on most or all flights if it was free, a finding that hardly is surprising. Some might ask about quality of experience if 85 percent of all passengers on any given flight shared at 2 Mbps connection.

Almost half the respondents would be willing to experience a travel-related inconvenience for Wi-Fi that’s as fast as it is at home. Some examples are that 45 percent would endure airport security twice to gain access to Wi-Fi “as fast as it is at home.”

About 29 percent would even swap their ticket to fly standby on a plane with Wi-Fi that’s as fast as it is at home.

Some would say those findings are essentially meaningless. It is not possible to supply Wi-Fi on planes at such rates, and definitely not if most passengers use Wi-Fi in flight.

Edited by Adam Brandt

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