September 19 2023  |  Connectivity & Satellites

Latest Viasat survey shows value of inflight Wi-Fi to passengers

By Alex Preston, in Long Beach, California

Inflight Wi-Fi is increasingly becoming a more influential factor for passengers when selecting which airline to fly with

A growing number of passengers are citing Wi-Fi as an important factor in their onboard experience, according to Viasat’s 2023 Passenger Experience Survey.The survey conducted by Censuswide, sampled the responses of over 11,000 passengers from the UK, Brazil, Germany, Turkey, South Korea, Singapore, UAE, India and Hong Kong, who have travelled by air in the last 12 months.

The new report shows demand and expectation for free Wi-Fi is surging, with 22 percent of respondents saying free in-flight Wi-Fi has become the most influential factor (other than ticket price) for choosing an airline, ahead of free food and drink (18 percent), legroom (13 percent), and free entertainment (9 percent.)

In a call to airlines 50 percent of passengers worldwide now say Wi-Fi should be free on all short-haul flights and 82 percent agree for long-haul flights, with 29 percent willing to pay more for their ticket to benefit from free Wi-Fi.

In the USA, demand for free inflight Wi-Fi increased by 50 percent since 2022's survey, with India seeing a 42 percent increase, and Brazil 35 percent. Half of passengers worldwide (50 percent) now say Wi-Fi should be free on all short-haul flights and more than eight in ten (82 percent) for long-haul flights.

To enjoy free Wi-Fi 89 percent of surveyed passengers would be willing to make some sacrifices, with 42 percent happy to see advertisements, and a third happy to give up alcoholic beverages (34 percent) or loyalty points (33 percent) in exchange. And when it comes to enjoying free connectivity onboard, 88 percent of passengers would expect some restrictions, such as advertisements (38 percent).

An overwhelming majority, 83 percent of those surveyed reported they are more likely to rebook with an airline that offered quality Wi-Fi, while 81 percent said Wi-Fi was important to their onboard experience, a 4 percent increase since 2022.

As more airlines begin offering live TV, 4 in 5 passengers (81 percent) say they would pay for access to live sport during a flight – with the FIFA World Cup the most in-demand (45 percent), followed by the Olympics (28 percent) and the NBA (25 percent).

“These findings give us a fascinating insight into the minds of passengers at a critical time for the aviation sector,” said Jimmy Dodd, SVP & President, Global Enterprise & Mobility at Viasat in a September 19 press release. “It is encouraging to see passenger numbers close to pre-COVID levels; and the 2023 Passenger Experience Survey shows how quickly travellers have adopted to digital nativism, including expectations for free, fast Wi-Fi and edge-of-your-seat experiences, like Live TV and Live Sport at 30,000 feet.”

Full report available here.

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