With inflight connectivity (IFC) fast becoming a passenger expectation, but also representing a major investment at a time of industry recovery, the airline industry needs to understand what passengers expect from their IFC experience post-pandemic. OneWeb has commissioned a report to find out, and the initial findings have been released. Titled ‘The OneWeb Connected Passenger Report’, the research also explores whether passenger expectations are being met by today’s IFC experience (spoiler alert: they aren’t).
Some of the abrupt and lengthy changes in lifestyle brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic appear to be staying for the long haul, with many people now wishing to prioritise their quality of life, including seeing the world. While the travel destination is usually fulfilling, many of those surveyed regard the travel process to be disruptive to their physical and emotional wellbeing, especially if they have to fly frequently. And some current IFC services can add to the stresses of travel for business and leisure passengers alike, as the survey found.
Some of the top IFC frustrations include apprehension about the cabin wi-fi becoming disconnected during flight, which as well as being annoying at the time, can cause stress before the flight. That apprehension can be put into numbers: 59% of passengers surveyed rated the current quality of IFC between ‘very poor’ to ‘moderate’ on a seven-point scale.
The survey also found that younger digital native passengers are less tolerant of current IFC and are dismissive of its usability. 60% of passengers surveyed agree that the while the idea of accessing wi-fi during flight is great, the current connections aren’t reliable enough. Clearly if airlines are investing in IFC to improve the passenger experience, retaining and attracting customers, they need to make sure the IFC offered is reliable.
Remarkably, 7 out of 10 respondents said they have never even tried inflight wi-fi, citing perceived unreliability, cost and pre-established coping mechanisms as their reasons for not connecting. 43% of those who have used the systems described the experience as being frustrating.
However, an airline that was perceived as providing consistently high-quality IFC, would be set apart from the competition and inspire loyalty from the survey respondents. “It would almost definitely impact our choice of airline. Good internet connectivity would be a game changer for us,” said a Digital Nomad.
So what would they use IFC for? 56% of passengers said they would use better wi-fi to access entertainment, 48% said they would keep in touch with people on the ground, and 41% said they would use it for work.
Commenting on the results, Ben Griffin, Ben Griffin, VP Mobility at OneWeb, said “Despite the significant investment airlines are making in their IFC offering, it is clear the current in-flight connectivity experience is not consistently delivering on the needs of today’s connected passenger with a majority of passengers not even taking the time to connect. The flying public have spoken, and these results underscore a huge opportunity for airlines to improve their passengers experience, and loyalty by enhancing their IFC”.
The research was conducted by TAG Research, an independent research agency, which collected both qualitative and quantitative data. The qualitative sample was collected in 27 individual, hour-long interviews with frequent flyers across five key groups, including corporate travel bookers, digital nomads, travel bloggers, and young frequent flyers. The qualitative data was obtained through a detailed survey completed by 4,110 individuals from across the US, UK, Singapore and the UAE.
Quantitative data was collected in a survey completed by 4,110 individuals from across the US, UK, Singapore and the UAE. Research took place between February and March 2022. The qualitative research was collected through interviews with frequent flyers across five topics (including digital nomads, travel bloggers, journalists, corporate travel bookers and young frequent flyers).