Business travellers value inflight Wi-Fi access more highly than meals, free movies and other airline services.
A study released today by the Wi-Fi Alliance and US-based Wakefield Research reveals travellers would sacrifice some onboard services and even change their travel plans in order to access Wi-Fi in the air.
In a survey of 480 frequent corporate travellers in the US, 76% said they would choose an airline based on Wi-Fi availability, 55% would change their plans by up to a day to be able to access Wi-Fi, and 71 percent would choose a flight with Wi-Fi in preference to one providing a meal.
The study suggests travellers increasingly look to Wi-Fi to help manage their workload, with 40% saying they find work-related travel stressful and 64% revealing they feel “on the clock” while travelling for work.
It found one-in-two business travellers frequently take a red-eye flight because they must be reachable during business hours. More than four out of five (82%) said inflight Wi-Fi would help them stay on top of work.
Among those who have not used Wi-Fi on a flight, 95% believed it would make them more productive, 87% said they would use it to check email and 63% would log on to work-related systems.
Leisure travellers among the respondents also said they would take advantage of inflight Wi-Fi. Of those who have used it, 72% checked email, 49% browsed online, 35% watched videos, 28% shopped, 25% played video games and 22% visited social-networking sites.
US no-frills carrier Southwest Airlines plans to install Wi-Fi across its fleet in the first quarter of next year. The Wi-Fi Alliance is an industry association comprising leading Wi-Fi technology companies.