60% of all passengers believe in-flight Wi-Fi is a necessity, not a luxury
56% of Middle Eastern passengers say quality inflight Wi-Fi is more important than onboard entertainment
Inflight internet a ‘life saver’ for 62% of Middle Eastern parents travelling with children

In-flight broadband is changing the airline industry and revolutionising passengers’ expectations of the onboard experience. That is the conclusion from the Third Annual Global In-flight Connectivity Survey, published by Inmarsat (LSE: ISAT.L) in association with market research company GfK.

Overwhelmingly, passengers now expect the same levels of connectivity and access to online services whilst they are at 30,000 feet as they are on the ground. As such, 60% of all passengers say that in-flight Wi-Fi is now a necessity rather than a luxury. Over half of passengers in the Middle East who have experienced high-quality in-flight Wi-Fi rate it higher on their list of priorities than in-flight entertainment when choosing an airline.

With airlines in every market racing to install or upgrade their Wi-Fi offering, passengers will have a choice to opt for an airline that offers high-quality broadband, and will soon turn their back on airlines not offering this. Over a third of Middle Eastern respondents said they would stop using their preferred airline within the next year if it did not offer connectivity enabling them to stream or browse online without interruption.

The ability to connect to personal devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets now sits within the top three considerations when choosing an airline, behind ticket price and airline brand for 46% of Middle Eastern passengers who have experienced high-quality in-flight Wi-Fi.

What’s more, the ability to remain online and work during a flight is greatly improving the passenger experience, according to more than half of all business travellers who have previously used in-flight Wi-Fi.

The survey reflects the responses of 9,000 airline passengers from 18 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and North and Latin America, and is the largest global passenger survey of its kind.

Ben Griffin, Vice President, Middle East, Africa and South Asia at Inmarsat Aviation, said:

High-quality in-flight Wi-Fi is changing the way people think about flying and how they spend their time in the air. Whether using the time to work, to connect with friends and family, or to pass time shopping or viewing entertainment, the availability of in-flight broadband has become a major factor when choosing an airline.

The annual In-flight Connectivity Survey has become a barometer for passenger sentiment. This year’s survey reveals that 60% of passengers believe that in-flight Wi-Fi is a necessity and no longer a luxury. This will only increase as more people experience in-flight connectivity. It is clear that the opportunity that connectivity presents to airlines cannot be underestimated.’

Middle East Survey Highlights

  • 81% of Middle Eastern passengers would pay for in-flight connectivity even on short-haul leisure flights, rising to 85% for long-haul business flights
  • 59% of Middle Eastern passengers agree that in-flight Wi-Fi takes the anxiety out of flying because they can stay in contact with people on the ground
  • 36% of passengers in the Middle East said they would stop using their preferred airline within the next year if they only offered poor quality Wi-Fi
  • Business flyers in the Middle East use Wi-Fi for both work and non-work reasons: 29% browse the web, 37% use social networks, 43% email and 20% use business tools
  • Leisure flyers love the freedom to use a variety of devices as they wish. The Middle East has the highest volume of multi-device usage in all regions surveyed, with 66% of inflight connectivity users connecting more than one device.
  • 51% of Middle Eastern passengers would take advantage of the ability to purchase items from the plane and collect them on arrival at the airport
  • 27% of respondents in the region would choose to have inflight purchases delivered to their home

Inmarsat is transforming the global aviation industry by bringing complete connectivity to every aircraft and flight path in the world. It is the first and only provider with a complete next-generation High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) network spanning the world.

To find out more about Inmarsat, visit their website at inmarsat.com.