Survey: 83% of passengers select airlines based on in-flight broadband
Written by: Laurence Doe | Published:

A survey conducted by market research company GfK on behalf of by Inmarsat has revealed that most passengers (83 per cent) will select an airline based on whether they can remain logged into social networks, video streaming sites, apps and emails throughout their journeys.

The main concern to passengers is reliability for 75 per cent of respondents and speed was found to be a priority for just 19 per cent. Among those who have had the opportunity to use in-flight broadband, one in ten were unable to connect their devices to the aircraft’s network.

The In-Flight Connectivity Survey between August 2015 and March 2016 gathered more than 9,000 responses from short, medium or long haul passengers travelling in the last year from Europe, Asia, Australasia, and Central and South America who carried at least one personal device onboard the aircraft. It was discovered that passengers are willing to pay to receive the best possible service. Quality is also a factor for passengers in determining whether to use in-flight broadband as 60 per cent of passengers are less inclined to connect if the service is poor, but a reliable service that does not disconnect at regular intervals can expect to be well used.

Additional statistics:

  • 83 per cent of passengers prefer to choose an airline that offers in-flight broadband
  • 78 per cent of passengers expect to see onboard connectivity replace in-flight entertainment systems within the next five to ten years
  • 34 per cent of passengers bring three mobile devices onboard a flight and are willing to pay to connect their phone, tablet or laptop computer to in-flight broadband

In terms of willingness to pay for broadband services on a flight of any length:

  • In Europe – 69 per cent of passengers are prepared to pay
  • In Asia Pacific – 67 per cent of passengers are prepared to pay
  • In Latin America – 64 per cent of passengers are prepared to pay

Demand for onboard connectivity is not just restricted to long-haul travel, passengers are equally willing to pay to log-in whether they are flying short distances (64 per cent), medium haul (68 per cent) or long haul (69 per cent).

Regional breakdowns

GfK and Inmarsat state that passengers in Latin America are primarily looking to connect to stream video as a priority and are also most likely to think in-flight connectivity will usurp in-flight entertainment.

The companies have also found that Asia Pacific passengers mainly seek access to travel websites and apps and European travelers, “who are used to onboard connectivity everywhere they go”, want to be able to keep up-to-date and in constant contact with friends and family whenever they travel on flights.

“Demand for broadband in the sky has reached such unprecedented levels around the world that airlines, as well as those in the business aviation and aircraft lessor markets, need to meet passenger expectations or risk losing out to their competitors,” said Leo Mondale, president of Inmarsat Aviation. “Our survey clearly demonstrates that passengers demand a highly reliable service. Quality is the essential ingredient that determines whether or not passengers choose to go online during flights.

“Airlines are therefore under pressure to select the right partner to support them in delivering a reliable and cost effective service. Inmarsat has the infrastructure, commitment and investment power to deliver the best capacity, now and in the future.”

The In-Flight Connectivity Survey was completed in two phases. The first phase was conducted from 28 August to 21 September 2015, focusing on short and medium haul flights in Europe. The second phase was conducted from 4 February to 7 March 2016, focusing on short, medium and long haul flights in Latin America and Asia Pacific, together with long haul in Europe.


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