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  1. Hardware
May 24, 2016

WiFi on planes now more important than food, according to global in-flight survey

News: Airlines have less than a decade to meet customers’ demands for onboard experiences.

By Joao Lima

Broadband-hungry travellers are set to make airliners rethink their in-flight offerings, with more than half admitting to prefer connectivity instead of onboard meals.

According to the In-Flight Connectivity Survey conducted by Inmarsat and GfK, 54% of passengers say broadband connectivity is more important than food, which is only a top priority for 19%.

Most passengers would also prefer to connect their smartphones, tablets or laptops to the internet during their journey as opposed to accessing in-flight entertainment (16%) or experiencing duty free shopping (7%).

Overall, 92% of the more than 9,000 passengers surveyed in 27 countries in Europe, Asia, Australasia, and Central and South America said they would like to access onboard connectivity.

83% of respondents admitted that they now select an airline based on whether they can remain logged into social networks, video streaming sites, apps and emails throughout their journeys.

However, 69% passengers said they are willing to pay for in-flight connectivity on long-haul flights, while 68% would pay for medium haul flight connectivity and 64% is willing to do so on short flights.

On average, one in three passengers take three internet-enabled devices on-board.

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When it comes to speeds, 75% of those surveyed said they are not too worried about the broadband speed, and find a reliable connection more important.

Inmarsat has drawn upon the survey findings to highlight that quality is the essential factor for passengers in determining whether to use in-flight broadband.

60% of passengers are less inclined to connect if the service is poor, but a reliable service that does not disconnect at regular intervals can expect to be well used.

78% of passengers expect to see onboard connectivity replace in-flight entertainment systems within the next five to ten years.

Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: "Demand for broadband in the sky has reached such unprecedented levels around the world that airlines, as well as those in the business aviation and aircraft lessor markets, need to meet passenger expectations or risk losing out to their competitors.

"Quality is the essential ingredient that determines whether or not passengers choose to go online during flights. Airlines are therefore under pressure to select the right partner to support them in delivering a reliable and cost effective service."

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