Transport Airlines

How Far Will U.S. Flyers Go for In-Flight Wi-Fi?

Jul 22, 2014 7:30 am

Skift Take

Flyers may love in-flight Wi-Fi, but the likely don’t love it as much as does a corporation trying to sell more in-flight connectivity hardware or services.

— Marisa Garcia

Free Report: The State of Student Travel

Honeywell

Airline passengers on personal electronic devices. Honeywell


To persuade airlines that it is high-time to provide high-flying high-speed Wi-Fi, AT&T partner Honeywell continues its tradition of presenting statistics proving how desperate passengers are for this service and just what they’re willing to do to get it.

Honeywell’s previous statistics on passengers’ feelings about high-speed Wi-Fi revealed that 13% of passengers in the U.S., 17% of passengers in the UK and 22% of passengers in Singapore were willing to give up going to the bathroom in exchange for connectivity. A larger chunk of passengers surveyed also said they would give up food and water to swiftly surf the net onboard. Those two preferences go together well, we must say.

In a new 2014 study, Honeywell presents U.S. airlines even more compelling (and odd) numbers to convince them to equip their aircraft for AT&T and Honeywell’s upcoming (late 2015/early 2016) 4G LTE connection right away. Like now. It may already be too late.

Here are the numbers which caught our eye–and made us question the lifestyle choices and mental health of the 1,045 US Passengers surveyed:

  • More than one in three (34%) would show up three hours before boarding time for superior speed.

Did those surveyed misunderstand the question? Or maybe they don’t know from aeronautics. Perhaps they thought the plane would take off faster (and sooner) with faster Wi-Fi. This is good news for airports. Think of all the time those early-arrival passengers could spend shopping! Or griping over the lack of Wi-Fi at the terminal. Then, it would not be good.

  • 29% would swap their ticket to fly standby on a plane with Wi-Fi that is as fast as the connection they have at home.

These individuals better not have dial-up connections at home or they’re getting a bum-deal on that swap.

  • Over two in five (45%) of these people would endure airport security twice in exchange for fast Wi-Fi.

Who the heck formulated this question, the TSA? This statistic begs another question: If passengers have to go through security twice, at which one of the two security points will their PEDs be confiscated making that high-speed in-flight Wi-Fi pointless?

Honeywell’s statistics on connectivity for In-Flight Entertainment were also entertaining.

  • 54% of passengers surveyed would be embarrassed to have fellow passengers see how they use this super-fast in-flight Wi-Fi.
  • 50% would be embarrassed if fellow passengers saw them perusing a dating website.
  • 32% would be embarrassed if fellow passengers caught them watching cat videos.
  • 30% would not want to be seen watching children’s movies.

These entertainment-shy passengers should book those Premium seats airlines are so eager to sell — the ones with the nifty privacy screens. Passengers in the back are advised to stick with entertainment that their too-close neighbors on either side can also enjoy.

Once again, U.S. passengers in Honeywell’s world confirmed that they place greater importance on Wi-Fi than food.

37% percent would be bummed not to have Wi-Fi, and a lesser 35% would be miffed about lack of meal or beverage service.

First: Who are these people that still expect meal or beverage service on a US domestic flight? Second: Who are these people?

According to Honeywell, these people are 1,045 respondents to an email invitation for an online survey by Kelton, a leading global insights firm with a twisted sense of humor.

We also learned from Honeywell’s survey that a few U.S. passengers have a love-hate-guilt triangle thing going on with their time-off.

Wi-Fi on board has 19% of passengers in a vacation state-of-mind, using that onboard Wi-Fi onboard to research their next trip.

However, a sad set of 9% have pretended to be at work while on vacation.

Skift’s Dennis Schaal prepared a superb study on how U.S. corporations contribute to this vacation or work dilemma for their workers. A work-ethic which makes you feel guilty over enjoying the lighter side of life? Possibly also the fault of those Mayflower Pilgrims? Just sayin’. No such conflict for European passengers. Honeywell didn’t ask, but it didn’t have to.

Some of the figures were far more likely to convince airlines to hook up with Honeywell and AT&T:

  • In-flight Wi-Fi availability influences flight selection for 66% of passengers.
  • Nearly one in four (22 %) admitted they’ve paid more for a flight with Wi-Fi, and close to one in five (17%) have switched from their preferred airline because another carrier had better Wi-Fi offerings.

Despite passenger demand for in-flight connectivity, the costs for airlines of installing the necessary antennae on aircraft, and the open question of whether any of those passengers are willing to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi, have made this very popular feature a hard-sell for service providers. Add to those factors the number of suppliers entering the Wi-Fi in the sky marketplace, generating fierce competition. You can’t fault Honeywell for trying to stand out from the crowd by taking an off-the-wall approach to crunching the numbers.

Jack Jacobs, Vice President, Marketing and Product Management, Honeywell Aerospace, points out:

“The commercial aviation industry has to pay attention to meet the demands of passengers, giving them the freedom to stay connected whenever and wherever they want.”

But there is one statistic which those cost-conscious airlines, wondering how to monetize this service, may find discouraging.

  • 85% of passengers surveyed would use Wi-Fi on most or all flights if it was free.

This doesn’t surprise us. The question is: Does it surprise anybody? And are the remaining 15% saying they would only use Wi-Fi if they have to pay for it?

Bring on the surveys, Honeywell! We love stats.

But maybe pre-screen for heavy alcohol consumption next time. Frequent flyers like their tipple.

Honeywell-2014-In-Flight-Wi-Fi-Survey-Infographic

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