Skift Take

Americans returning to the airport will be surprised by the range of positive and negative changes to the air travel experience -- most of which were necessary to bring the industry out of a recession and into a mobile, tech-influenced future.

The majority of U.S. flyers today are not willing to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi when it’s offered on their flight.

This is according to TripAdvisor’s annual air travel survey, which takes the pulse of more than 4,300 respondents’ thoughts on flights today.

The finding is surprising given the increase in flyers’ mobile usage.

According to the survey, the number of flyers using mobile devices to check their flight’s status, check in to flights, and research flight prices each increased by more than 10 percent for each of these tasks in the past year.

Cost is likely the biggest turnoff to in-flight with connectivity costing anywhere from $5 an hour to $16 a day via Gogo.

“The fact that 90 percent of flyers report rarely or never purchasing in-flight WiFi is likely due in large part to flyers’ frustration over airline fees: costly airline fees was flyers’ second biggest air travel complaint behind uncomfortable seats,” explains a TripAdvisor spokesperson.

Only three percent of respondents say they always purchase in-flight Wi-Fi when available.

As comparison, Skift found that 18 percent of the U.S. Internet population has used in-flight Wi-Fi on a flight. Almost half, or 47 percent, have not used Wi-Fin on a flight and 35 percent responded that they don’t fly.

Of those that have used in-flight Wi-Fi, the majority, or 60 percent used it for entertainment and personal communication.

Improvements, Complaints

The survey also tracks the rebound in air travel.

The percentage of respondents expecting to fly domestically this year, 93 percent, is up four percent from last year. International air travel is also on the rise with 63 percent of respondents expecting to fly abroad, up from 55 percent in 2013.

Many are heralding the improvements in more efficient check-in and boarding processes while even more bemoan the loss of legroom and and fee spike.

The biggest improvements in air travel are coming in the form of more streamlined processes including check-in, security and boarding.

When asked about the biggest improvements in air travel, 38 percent cited more efficient check-ins, 32 percent cited better security profess and 28 percent cited a more streamlined boarding process.

Easier booking and better in-flight entertainment options also made the top 5 list.

Despite improvements, a much larger percentage of respondents voiced their frustrations about the air travel experience.

Three-fourths of respondents cited limited legroom as their greatest frustration, 66 percent complained about costly fees and fares, and 45 percent bemoaned unpredictable flight delays.

Long security lines and loud children also made it into the top five complaints.

In fact, almost half, or 42 percent of respondents, said they’d be willing to pay to sit in a child-free section. Something which low-cost Asian airlines AirAsia X and Scoot are already putting on planes.


The Daily Newsletter

Our daily coverage of the global travel industry. Written by editors and analysts from across Skift’s brands.

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: skiftstats, surveys, tripadvisor

Photo credit: A woman waits in the airport. Getty Images

Up Next

Loading next stories