One technology provider intends to boost inflight Wi-Fi usage with the launch of a new mobile app that makes it easier for passengers to get connected while onboard. It also wants to encourage passengers to try the Wi-Fi service available from their airline by using beacons at the airport and on the plane.

As Francois Rodriguez, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer of SITA OnAir explains: “Two of the main friction points [of in-flight connectivity] have been that the portals themselves have not been sufficiently user-friendly and that passengers simply haven’t realized Wi-Fi is available.”

With its new inflight Wi-Fi application, and a mobile-centric platform, SITA OnAir hopes to make it easier for passengers to give in-flight connectivity a try. Because, as the company reports, over 80% of passengers have a smartphone its new portal is specifically designed for use on mobiles.

While competitor Gogo already offers a mobile app to help passengers connect, the difference is that the SITA OnAir app can be fully customized to fit each airline’s brand and Wi-Fi service offerings. It can even integrated directly into the airline’s app as a menu option.

“We help each airline tailor the right complimentary information to provide to suit their passengers’ requirements,” says Rodriguez. “The options for a pay-for or a complimentary Wi-Fi session are clearly laid out, so it is very easy to decide which level of service is appropriate and then access that service.”

With a fully-customizable mobile app, SITA On-Air hopes to tempt airlines and passengers to take advantage of inflight Wi-Fi connections/SITA OnAir

With a fully-customizable mobile app, SITA On-Air hopes to tempt airlines and passengers to take advantage of inflight Wi-Fi connections/SITA OnAir

As an incentive for adoption of the service, SITA OnAir will also help airlines encourage inflight Wi-Fi usage by exploiting beacons at the airport and onboard the aircraft. Beacons at the gate can push messages through the airline’s app to passengers’ phones, letting them know that Wi-Fi is available on their flight. Beacons on the
aircraft can be used to remind passengers when they can start using the Wi-Fi service onboard.

Rodriguez argues that beacons are already installed at airports and will be used to promote other retail and airport/airline services. Using them to promote Wi-Fi, SITA OnAir believes, is a natural add-on.

Photo Credit: A passenger using a smartphone to connect to in-flight wi-fi. Skift