Hi, From Thirty-Thousand Feet Up In The Air!

Image: http://dispatcheseurope.com/wi-fi-airplanes/

When I realised that Emirates offered their inflight WiFi for USD1, I quickly paid for it. Just as swift, I posted an update on my Facebook, I was flying from Dubai to New York. I was thrilled but worried at the same time.

“Hi, from 30,000 feet above and nothing under my feet.”

On one hand, I was thrilled because I could check my emails and chat with my family and friends throughout the flight. On the other hand, I was worried because the little time I had of being off the grid, when I am in the air, was taken away.

Yet, it doesn’t amaze me that surveys show that more than 80% of passengers prefer to be connected. It looks like it is on path to become a basic amenity on carriers as more and more airlines are jumping onto the bandwagon offering in-flight WiFi access. Here is a summary of what I have gleaned from the survey conducted by Inmarsat.

Survey highlights:

  • 80% of those surveyed would use in-flight Wi-Fi if given the opportunity

  • 67% of passenger users across all age groups would be willing to pay for the service, rising to 69% of 18-44 year olds

  • More than 4 out of 5 see a future where internet connectivity is available on all aircraft

  • 67% of passengers would feel more valued by an airline that offers in-flight connectivity, and 69% would choose a carrier which provides the service

It looks like Wifi access could soon be a game-changer in the airline industry. It might influence business travellers and avid bloggers for instance, who are more worried about their IN-FLIGHT connectivity than their flight connectivity. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for some), the speed and cost of in-flight WiFi does not justify to what we can achieve on land. Connection is still unreliable and it is still better kept to just using Whatsapp or Facebook messenger. However, many airlines are investing heavily on their WiFi infrastructure.

Inmarsat predicts that,

“Over half of the world’s aircraft will be equipped for in-flight Wi-Fi within the next six years,” says Inmarsat. “It is set to become a billion-dollar revenue sector by 2020.”

Qantas is already aiming to roll out their high speed internet across their domestic routes albeit facing with a bit of delay. Regardless, Qantas ambition is to,

“Qantas customers can look forward to world-leading inflight wi-fi … (the) new service will feature speeds up to 10 times faster than conventional on-board wi-fi, giving customers the ability to stream movies, TV shows, the latest news bulletins and live sports on domestic flights via the internet.”

The landscape of flying is changing again. Even if you do not have a long list of movies on your in-flight entertainment system, I bet my last dollar that if any carrier had a stable and fast in-flight connectivity, it might work in your favour to attract those constantly-connected travellers or anyone, because we can stream content directly into our devices.

For your information, even Asia’s best performing low-cost carrier – AirAsia – are offering in-flight WiFi on their planes.

Image from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3339426/Why-airlines-charge-flight-wifi.html

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