Survey Says In-Flight Broadband Beats Beer

Survey Says In-Flight Broadband Beats Beer

It seems over half of airline passengers would be willing to give up their inflight alcoholic drink or meal if it means they could get internet access.

While it wasn’t so long ago that internet access on flights being unavailable was a given and accepted, expectations of airline passengers are changing with advances in aviation broadband.

Aviation broadband - in-flight Wi-Fi Image: Inmarsat

A recent survey by Inmarsat indicated more than half of passengers (55%) described inflight Wi-Fi as a crucial service. Overall, it was the fourth most important factor passengers consider when choosing an airline. But it can’t be any old Wi-Fi – it has to be fast and reliable. 54% said no Wi-Fi at all is better than a poor quality service.

The availability of Wi-Fi is particularly important to business travelers, with 74% of this group believing it is crucial and 87% saying if it was available, they would be likely to work and be productive on a plane.

Overall, 81% of passengers stated they would use inflight Wi-Fi if it was available on their next flight.

The survey was taken by 9,300 passengers from 32 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and North and Latin America.

The results are positive for Inmarsat, which – surprise, surprise – is an aviation broadband provider.

“Wi-Fi is essential to daily life on the ground, and airline passengers see no reason why their time on a flight should be restricted or spent any differently,” said Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation.

The two main ways aviation connectivity is achieved is either through a series of mobile broadband towers on the ground sending signals to antennas on an aircraft, or via satellite links.

Airlines have been gradually getting on board with in-flight Wi-Fi since it first became available in 2008, with varying degrees of success. In May we reported Qatar Airways said it will be the first carrier from the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region to provide high-speed Wi-Fi broadband connectivity.

Here at home, Qantas will have free Wi-Fi enabled on 80 of its domestic fleet of B737’s and A330’s by the end of this year – some already have it. Virgin says its service, which has already started rolling out, will be enabled on all Boeing 777 aircraft and the majority of Boeing 737 aircraft by the end of this year, with its Airbus A330 joining the ranks by the second half of next year.

Other airlines operating in Australia to have Wi-Fi on some or most of their aircraft include Air New Zealand, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, United and Singapore Airlines.

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