Iata study finds free onboard digital media can help airlines secure bookings direct

Iata study finds free onboard digital media can help airlines secure bookings direct

Sixteen per cent of people would choose an airline based on the availability of Wi-Fi in the air, including access to free media services such as Netflix or online games, a new poll has revealed.


Free food and drink (34%) and brand reputation (21%) are the top factors that would influence people to pick one airline over another, according to the PwC survey of more than 1,000 UK adults who have flown at least once in the past year.

Based on the assumption that they could reach their destination for about the same cost, the survey reveals other added-value pre-boarding offerings with the potential to influence passengers’ airline choice:


  • 35% would like to receive free, optional and customisable mobile phone notifications providing gate details, length of time from departure desk to the gate, and destination information such as weather.
  • 30% would like information on and the ability to book transport to and from their departure airport that work seamlessly with their flight times.
  • 29% are interested in a loyalty scheme rewarding them for all purchases relating to their trip, from the flight through to duty free.
  • 33% would like their luggage sent on to their hotel ahead of them.

Airports can also do more to influence consumer decision making. 


The survey shows that while 28% would select the airport closest to home regardless of other features, almost double that number (54%) would pick their departure point based on faster processing at check-in and security, and shorter queues in general. 



PwC UK airlines leader, Ben Paul, said: 

“While a number of airlines provide food, drink and mobile ticketing, it is interesting how consumers really value these – and the little improvements they’d like that would make a world of difference to them as they travel.

“Investing in mobile app and online ticketing updates that could add gate details and real-time information on how long it might take to get from check-in to the plane, for example, could have a real impact on booking numbers and, ultimately, an airline’s bottom line.

“Differentiating your business in ways that align with growing customer expectations doesn’t need to be cost intrusive either. Rather than incur the expense of full Wi-Fi installation, airlines could invest in low-cost, onboard Wi-Fi boxes with the potential to store and stream passengers’ pre-selected movies or TV programmes to their personal devices.

“By increasing customer choice and personalisation – factors that our survey show are highly valued – airlines boost their potential to generate extra revenues.

“And as in-flight personalisation develops and expands, it can trigger a virtuous circle of loyalty and usage: the more a passenger uses these in-flight services, the more data the airline can collect, and the more personalised services it can provide, such as having a passenger’s favourite drink, snack or magazine available. Often it is these small, simple acts that have the most powerful impact.”

He added: “When taken together, digital, data and analytics open up three main areas of competitive opportunity and risk across the industry.

“Applying the right balance of purchased, owned and earned data to deliver a seamless, data-enabled customer journey is the first step.

“Airports and airlines could also look to exploit this data to create differentiated value-added services that boost customer loyalty, re-bookings and revenues, as well as monetising this customer data by generating advertising revenues and selling it to third-parties. 



“It’s clear that airlines and airports have the potential to transform the passenger experience, making it more personal, compelling and engaging than ever before.

“Harnessing innovation and digital technology to create the enhanced personalised pre-flight and on-board experience customers crave should be at the forefront of boardroom agendas as they define and develop future growth and investment strategies.”

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