Image via Inmarsat

APEX Insight: Inmarsat’s third annual global Inflight Connectivity Survey shows 44 percent of passengers would stop using their preferred airline in the next year if it offered poor quality in-flight connectivity (IFC). Also, 61 percent of passengers who have experienced good in-flight Wi-Fi consider it more important than in-flight entertainment when choosing an airline. 

In February 2017, Inmarsat surveyed 9,000 airline passengers across 18 countries who had taken a flight in the last year for a mix of business and leisure purposes. Interestingly, 77 percent of passengers said they would pay for connectivity on short-haul leisure flights, marking a 13 percent increase from 64 percent in 2016. This means the demand for IFC does reach even the low-fare and regional airline markets, which have traditionally been conservative about adopting the technology due to cost.

However, long-haul flights still lead in terms of demand, with 89 percent of passengers willing to pay for IFC on leisure flights. This number rises to 91 percent when considering only passengers in the Asia Pacific region, who were proven to have the highest expectations when it comes to connectivity.

The survey revealed those happiest to pay for IFC include travelers in the US, passengers aged 25-34 and parents traveling with children. Sixty-six percent of the latter group identified IFC as a lifesaver when it comes to keeping young ones entertained. Business travelers also appreciate the opportunity to connect, with 56 percent of those who have previously used in-flight Wi-Fi saying it greatly improved their passenger experience.

61% of passengers who have experienced good in-flight Wi-Fi consider it more important than IFE when choosing an airline.

In general, passengers seem to prefer connectivity over entertainment. According to the survey, 61 percent of passengers who have experienced good in-flight Wi-Fi (defined by Inmarsat as “streaming or browsing without interruption”) consider it more important than in-flight entertainment when choosing an airline. For these customers, IFC ranked third in terms their considerations when booking, behind ticket price and flight slots. Overall, 45 percent of respondents said they would pay for in-flight Wi-Fi rather than access an airline’s free IFE offering.

Finally, the survey’s results were promising for in-flight e-commerce, with 52 percent of passengers saying they would take advantage of the ability to purchase items during a flight and collect them upon arrival at the airport.

Leo Mondale, president of Inmarsat Aviation, commented, “This year’s survey reveals that 60 percent of passengers believe that inflight Wi-Fi is a necessity and no longer a luxury. This will only increase as more people experience in-flight connectivity. It is clear the opportunity that connectivity presents to airlines cannot be underestimated.”