The vast majority of airline passengers are more likely to rebook tickets with an airline that offers inflight WiFi, and many are willing to make significant sacrifices to benefit from an internet connection at 38,000 feet, according to a new survey.
The survey, which was commissioned by a company that provides inflight WiFi services, also found that passengers consider WiFi more important than free food and drink, free entertainment or even legroom.
The importance with which passengers consider inflight WiFi has been growing steadily over the last few years and has now reached the point at which WiFi is second only to ticket price for influencing passengers over which airline to book with.
Any old WiFi, however, is simply not good enough. Nowadays, passengers are demanding fast, quality inflight internet, which is also free to access.
In fact, half of the 11,000 respondents who took part in the Viasat-commissioned survey said they would be less willing to connect to inflight WiFi if they had to pay for it.
Passengers are, though, willing to make sacrifices to benefit from free WiFi, with the vast majority saying they would be willing to accept advertising. A third of passengers even said they would forgo complimentary alcoholic drinks to access free WiFi, and 33% said they would give up point earning in exchange for a free internet connection.
“These findings give us a fascinating insight into the minds of passengers at a critical time for the aviation sector,” commented Jimmy Dodd, SVP & President, Global Enterprise & Mobility at Viasat.
Dodd welcomed the fact that passenger numbers have bounced back following the pandemic, but COVID-19 may have significantly changed the expectations of passengers, and they are returning to flying with the belief that what they can do remotely on the ground should also be possible in the air.
Viasat warns inflight WiFi is now ‘make or break’ for airlines, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the company is urging airlines to make significant investments in onboard WiFi to avoid losing out customers to their rivals.
Despite these results, however, the vast majority of airlines still don’t offer universal free WiFi, although many carriers are dipping their toes in the water with free WiFi for frequent flyers or free messaging via social media apps.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.