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More flight travelers want Wi-Fi

Posted: 03 Sep 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Wi-Fi? in-flight access? broadband?

In-flight Wi-Fi access is fast becoming a highly valued airline amenity among frequent fliers and business travelers, and it is valued more than meal service, free movies and other perks. This is according to a survey of airline business travelers released by the Wi-Fi Alliance and undertaken in conjunction with Wakefield Research.

Travelers said they would be willing to make significant sacrifices or change travel plans to ensure Wi-Fi access while in-air: 76 percent would choose an airline based on the availability of in-flight Wi-Fi; 55 percent would shift their flight by one day if it meant having in-flight Wi-Fi; and 71 percent would opt for a flight with Wi-Fi access over one that provided meal service.

"Business and leisure travelers have long relied on Wi-Fi's wide availability around the world to stay connectedand that is becoming an expectation in the sky as well," said Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance. "We are excited to see numerous airlines offering in-flight Wi-Fi to passengers, and expect Wi-Fi will soon be as commonplace in planes as it is today in homes, businesses, and public areas."

Wi-Fi as work tool
The poll also illustrates that business travelers view in-flight Wi-Fi as an important tool to manage their workload. Forty percent said they view work-related travel as stressful and 64 percent said they feel "on the clock" when they are traveling for work. In fact, 50 percent of business travelers frequently take a "red-eye" flight because they must be reachable during business hours. However, 82 percent said in-flight Wi-Fi would help them stay on top of projects.

Among business travelers who have not yet used in-flight Wi-Fi, 87 percent said they would check e-mail and 63 percent would log on to work-related systems such as sales and reporting tools if Wi-Fi were available on a future flight. Of the same travelers, 95 percent said Wi-Fi access would make them more productive.

"In-flight Wi-Fi will become a major productivity tool for business travelers, retention benefit for frequent flyer programs and a major revenue generator for the airlines, all during a downturn in the global economy," said Berge Ayvazian, senior analyst for Yankee Group. "This survey demonstrates the pent-up demand for broadband Internet access in-flight and the wide range of potential business and personal applications."

In-flight Wi-Fi use is not restricted to business purposes, however. Travelers are taking advantage of it for leisure activities as well. Among survey respondents who have used in-flight Wi-Fi, 72 percent use it to check personal email; 49 percent browse the Web; 35 percent stream videos or music; 28 percent shop online; 25 percent play online video games and 22 percent use social networking applications.

The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 480 frequent business travelers ages 18 and older, including 150 frequent business travelers.

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