Airline passengers prioritise wifi over all other in-flight services combined

A survey conducted by Inmarsat and GfK has concluded in-flight wifi is by far the most sought-after amenity by passengers, ahead of meals and in-flight entertainment.

The survey covered 9,000 passengers in Europe, APAC and Latin America who had taken a flight of any length in the past year and carried at least one personal device on board the aircraft. 92% of those wanted connectivity and, when asked to pick a single service, including meals and traditional entertainments systems, 54% of them went for wifi.

While ambivalence towards airplane food is understandable, such is today’s reliance on connected devices that it seems even being offered a bunch of premium content is no substitute for being able to get online in the air. 83% of respondents said they will select an airline based on in-flight wifi two thirds of them said they’d be willing to pay extra for improved quality and reliability. 78% of respondents expect connectivity to replace in-flight entertainment within a decade.

“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.”

Mondale obviously thinks his company is that partner. As expectations of ubiquitous connectivity grow satellite is coming to the fore as a way to fill not-spots and bring connectivity to remote environments. The satellite connectivity market seems to be booming and in-flight connectivity especially looks set to be highly competitive.

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