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Survey: Inflight Wi-Fi demand drives airline loyalty

August 7, 2018

Inflight Wi-Fi is a key driver in forming customer loyalty and satisfaction among today’s airline passengers, according to Inmarsat’s fourth annual global Inflight Connectivity Survey, the industry’s largest poll of passenger attitudes published in association with market research company Populus.

Wi-Fi is already an essential part of everyday life on the ground with more than three quarters of those surveyed (78 per cent) believing that it is “fundamental” to daily life. With more than half of passengers (55 per cent) describing inflight Wi-Fi as crucial, meeting the demand for Wi-Fi in the skies is key to improving passenger experience and driving loyalty.

Wi-Fi is now so critical to passengers that two thirds (67 per cent) would be more likely to rebook with an airline if high-quality Wi-Fi was on offer. Globally, passengers ranked inflight Wi-Fi as the fourth most important factor that they consider when choosing an airline, behind airline reputation, free checked baggage and extra leg room.

The impact of inflight Wi-Fi on loyalty and satisfaction is particularly significant for passenger groups most keen to remain connected in the air. High-value customers, parents and young passengers are among those most likely to use inflight Wi-Fi services: nine in ten business travellers (90 per cent), parents travelling with children (90 per cent) and 18-30 year olds (91 per cent) plan to use the service if it’s offered when they next fly.

Onboard Wi-Fi could also lead to more productive business trips, as almost nine in ten business travellers (87 per cent) would use inflight Wi-Fi to continue working on the plane. Access to Wi-Fi is also an important driver of choice for nervous flyers, as more than half (51 per cent) said that they would use the technology to remain in contact with family and friends on the ground.

The majority of today’s airline passengers are so keen to get online that they will sacrifice other inflight amenities for internet access. Inmarsat’s 2016 Inflight Connectivity Survey revealed that more than half of passengers (54 per cent) would choose Wi-Fi over an inflight meal. Today, passengers are adding alcohol to the list of inflight amenities they would sacrifice to get online, with more than half (53 per cent) suggesting they are even prepared to give up their inflight alcoholic drink in exchange for access to Wi-Fi.

As demand for inflight Wi-Fi soars, uptake is similarly high as two thirds (65 per cent) of passengers that had access to the service in the past year chose to use it. However, the demand for quality onboard Wi-Fi is significantly outstripping supply on the fleets of airlines across the globe, as less than half of passengers globally (45 per cent) travelled on flights where it was offered.

“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,” noted Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation. “Whether it’s used for sending that important work email, entertaining the children or even connecting with fellow passengers, staying online is becoming a crucial part of the inflight experience for today’s airline passengers.”

“As the only provider to offer a complete global satellite network, Inmarsat is making high-speed inflight Wi-Fi a reality for passengers on leading airlines across the globe. As demand for quality services continues to soar, we are delighted to be able to bring these services to life for passengers and allow them to stay connected to their daily lives on the ground.”

Global survey highlights

  • 81 per cent of passengers would use inflight Wi-Fi if it was available on their next flight, rising to 91 per cent of 18-30 year olds, 90 per cent of business travellers and 90 per cent of passengers travelling with children
  • 65 per cent of passengers that have had access to inflight Wi-Fi in the last year used it
  • 70 per cent of passengers would be likely to recommend inflight Wi-Fi having tried it previously
  • 74 per cent of business travellers feel that inflight Wi-Fi is crucial, with almost nine in ten (87 per cent) stating that if inflight Wi-Fi was available they would be likely to work and be productive on a plane
  • Quality is key: for more than half of passengers (54 per cent), no Wi-Fi at all is better than a poor quality service
  • Over two thirds of passengers (67 per cent) would be more likely to rebook with an airline if high-quality inflight Wi-Fi were available
    • This likelihood to rebook rises to 81 per cent of passengers travelling with children, and 83 per cent of business travellers
  • More than half (53 per cent) would be willing to give up their inflight alcoholic drink to get online

Categories: Articles, Broadband, Consumer Behaviour, Research, Satellite