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Survey: Flight travellers enjoy Wi-Fi

Posted: 03 Sep 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Wi-Fi  in-flight access  broadband 

The Wi-Fi Alliance and Wakefield Research surveyed frequent fliers and business travellers, and found that they prefer in-flight Wi-Fi access over meal service, free movies and other perks.

Travelers said they would be willing to make significant sacrifices or change travel plans to ensure Wi-Fi access while in-air: 76 per cent would choose an airline based on the availability of in-flight Wi-Fi; 55 per cent would shift their flight by one day if it meant having in-flight Wi-Fi; and 71 per cent would opt for a flight with Wi-Fi access over one that provided meal service.

"Business and leisure travellers have long relied on Wi-Fi's wide availability around the world to stay connected—and that is becoming an expectation in the sky as well," said Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance. "We are excited to see numerous airlines offering in-flight Wi-Fi to passengers, and expect Wi-Fi will soon be as commonplace in planes as it is today in homes, businesses, and public areas."

Wi-Fi as work tool
The poll also illustrates that business travellers view in-flight Wi-Fi as an important tool to manage their workload. Forty per cent said they view work-related travel as stressful and 64 per cent said they feel "on the clock" when they are travelling for work. In fact, 50 per cent of business travellers frequently take a "red-eye" flight because they must be reachable during business hours. However, 82 per cent said in-flight Wi-Fi would help them stay on top of projects.

Among business travellers who have not yet used in-flight Wi-Fi, 87 per cent said they would check e-mail and 63 per cent would log on to work-related systems such as sales and reporting tools if Wi-Fi were available on a future flight. Of the same travellers, 95 per cent said Wi-Fi access would make them more productive.

"In-flight Wi-Fi will become a major productivity tool for business travellers, retention benefit for frequent flyer programmes and a major revenue generator for the airlines, all during a downturn in the global economy," said Berge Ayvazian, senior analyst for Yankee Group. "This survey demonstrates the pent-up demand for broadband Internet access in-flight and the wide range of potential business and personal applications."

In-flight Wi-Fi use is not restricted to business purposes, however. Travelers are taking advantage of it for leisure activities as well. Among survey respondents who have used in-flight Wi-Fi, 72 per cent use it to check personal email; 49 per cent browse the Web; 35 per cent stream videos or music; 28 per cent shop online; 25 per cent play online video games and 22 per cent use social networking applications.

The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 480 frequent business travellers ages 18 and older, including 150 frequent business travellers.

For more statistics and forecasts, click here

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