Following the surge in inflight wi-fi availability during 2014, Routehappy, a website that specializes in airline product differentiation, has enhanced the in-flight wi-fi data in its ‘Scores & Happiness Factors’ API. The site now identifies flights based on both the chance of them including wi-fi (‘some’, ‘good’, or ‘very good’, based on subfleet rollouts) and wi-fi type (‘good’, ‘better’, ‘best’ based on underlying technology offered.)
Some key highlights include:
• 52 airlines worldwide now offer in-flight wi-fi in most regions of the globe
• Flyers have at least ‘some’ chance of having a wi-fi option on 24% of flights worldwide, with US airlines offering at least ‘some’ chance of wi-fi on 66% of their flights system-wide and non-US airlines offering at least ‘some’ chance on 15% of their international flights
• Nine non-US airlines now offer at least a ‘very good’ chance of wi-fi on more than 20% of their international flight miles: Japan, Emirates, Aeroflot, Iberia, Lufthansa, Singapore, Etihad, Norwegian, and Icelandair, with the latter two surpassing 80%
• US major airline wi-fi bragging rights relative to their two major competitors include: Delta offers the most flights and flight miles with wi-fi of all airlines, by far; United has most international aircraft with wi-fi and uniquely offers ‘Best’ wi-fi; American/US offers ‘better’ wi-fi on its entire Airbus narrow-body fleet, which totals more than 300 aircraft
• 18 months ago, United offered at least ‘some’ chance of wi-fi on 518 US domestic flights, today it is 1,445, a 179% increase; American added 630, Delta 503, JetBlue 386
• Virgin America, Alaska, United lead on offering both wi-fi and power on the same flights
• All the busiest US domestic routes (20 daily flights or more in each direction including JFK-LAX, LGA-BOS, LGA-DCA, JFK-SFO, CLT-ATL) have wi-fi availability on all flights
• The ‘best’ or highest bandwidth system was introduced in 2014 and is currently available on nearly 1% of US flights
• Airlines are upgrading from Gogo ATG to Gogo ATG-4 (‘better’) on hundreds of aircraft
As Routehappy said in a press release, “2014 was a banner year for connectivity in the skies. As of our last report in July 2013, the availability of in-flight wi-fi was far from ubiquitous. Where it was available, flyers complained of slow speeds and high prices. The landscape has since changed dramatically.”
Routehappy CEO Robert Albert said that their research into wi-fi capabilities among airlines worldwide is the most extensive study that has been conducted.
“Wi-fi is one of the most sought after, new amenities flyers want to access on their flights, and there has been significant investment by airlines since our last report,” Albert said. “Coverage is starting to be meaningful on flights worldwide, along with a wide variety of speeds, coverage availability, and pricing models, including free of charge. The industry needs a trustworthy source of truth for in-flight wi-fi offerings. Routehappy has decided to make it a focus area, and is pleased to have greatly enhanced our wi-fi data in our Scores & Happiness Factors API to benefit users of our customer sites.”
Albert expects in-flight wi-fi offerings will continue to evolve rapidly over the next year.
In addition to wi-fi being more widely available, the core technology behind in-flight wi-fi has also evolved to allow for faster and more reliable connection speeds. Just 18 months ago, US domestic wi-fi was dominantly provided by the original Gogo air-to-ground network. Today, wi-fi availability via multiple satellite connections is growing, and previously slower-to-adopt domestic airlines have leapfrogged into faster satellite-based connections.
While airlines are still in the process of rolling wi-fi out to their fleets, Routehappy has scoured thousands of data points to determine the exact status of deployment. Routehappy’s wi-fi data now includes whether there is ‘some’ chance, ‘good’ chance, or ‘very good’ chance that a particular flight will have wi-fi. Routehappy has qualitatively ranked each and every in-flight wi-fi connection type, and when airline subfleet rollout reaches completion, Routehappy indicates whether the connection/performance is ‘good’, ‘better,’ or ‘best’ based on the underlying technology. Additionally, Routehappy tracks airlines operating wi-fi on a trial basis, as well as connectivity offered solely by GSM to mobile phones.
More information is available at www.routehappy.com