Survey: U.S. Passengers Seek Out Airlines with In-Flight Wi-Fi

By Tish Drake | July 5, 2012
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A new airline passenger survey focusing on U.S. travellers’ experience of in-flight Wi-Fi found that more than 60 percent of passengers who used cabin Wi-Fi are likely to use it again in the future, according to a report released this month from IMS Research.

According to the survey, more than 40 percent of respondents who have flown in the past year have used Wi-Fi service, either as part of a promotion or by paying, and 67 percent of respondents who paid for in-flight Wi-Fi are inclined to use the service again, compared to only 12 percent who indicated it would be unlikely for them to pay again. The survey findings indicated a generally positive experience from those who have used the Wi-Fi offered.

“In-flight Wi-Fi is not new, but still poses a major investment dilemma for airlines already squeezed by rising costs,” says Rose Yin, market analyst with IMS Research. “Apart from the usual issues of choosing the right connectivity solution for the airline and overcoming any bandwidth limitations, one of the main concerns is whether airlines can get a return on this investment. So far, it has been hard to make much additional profit from offering in-flight Wi-Fi for airlines, particularly as it’s not always clear which passengers are willing to pay for it.”

The survey found that 70 percent of those who had to pay for their in-flight Wi-Fi thought it was value for money. In fact, almost a third of the respondents indicated that they have chosen to fly with one airline because they knew it offered inflight Wi-Fi, and over a third who did not, would consider doing so in future.

“If we assume that the potential users of in-flight Wi-Fi will be similar to those in the U.S., then we can expect them to be those under the age of 45, male, and carrying a laptop PC on-board, where the average paying user might also come from a household with close to $90,000 of annual income,” Yin added, “Of course, you will also need to consider what other forms of in-flight entertainment are available. The survey told us that most people were using in-flight Wi-Fi for leisure purposes, which may be a result of a lack of a comparable entertainment system on-board. The take-up rate might be different if a personal in-flight entertainment system is offered for free, as many long-haul flights do.”

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