Viasat Survey Shows Growing Importance of IFC for Passengers


Viasat 2023 Passenger Experience Survey
Photo: Thomas Barwick via Getty Images

Viasat has revealed the results of its global 2023 Passenger Experience Survey, in which 83% of the 11,000 people who took part said they would be more likely to rebook with an airline that offered quality in-flight Wi-Fi.

Of the respondents, all of whom have traveled by air in the last 12 months, 81% said in-flight Wi-Fi was an important part of their onboard experience, marking a 4% increase since last year’s survey.  

Specifically, 22% of respondents said the availability of Wi-Fi was the most influential factor when choosing an airline, versus 18% who prioritized free food and drink, 13% who were most concerned with legroom, and 9% that deemed entertainment their number one consideration. This made it the second most important criteria for passengers after the price of the ticket.

Despite this, the majority of passengers are still reluctant to pay for the service. Half of those surveyed said they would be less likely to connect to in-flight connectivity (IFC) services if there was a fee to do so, and only three in ten (29%) said they would pay a higher airfare if they received free IFC onboard.

Compared to 2022’s survey, demand for free in-flight Wi-Fi has increased by 50% in the US, by 42% in India and by 35% in Brazil. Half of passengers worldwide (50%) now say Wi-Fi should be free on all short-haul flights, and 82% feel it should be gratis on long-haul flights.

Cost is less of an issue when it comes to live sports content, though. 81% of passengers said they would pay for access to live sport during a flight.

Finally, it seems that passengers expect to make some sacrifices for the sake of accessing free in-flight Wi-Fi, with 38% saying they would expect to watch advertisements in exchange.

Jimmy Dodd, SVP & President, Global Enterprise & Mobility at Viasat, commented, “These findings give us a fascinating insight into the minds of passengers at a critical time for the aviation sector. It is encouraging to see passenger numbers close to pre-COVID levels; and the 2023 Passenger Experience Survey shows how quickly travelers have adapted to digital nativism, including expectations for free, fast Wi-Fi and edge-of-your-seat experiences, like Live TV and Live Sport at 30,000 feet.”

Elsewhere, Viasat recently announced it has been selected by Malaysia Airlines to power the in-flight connectivity and wireless in-flight entertainment solutions on its Boeing 787 MAX fleet.