US technology company Honeywell Aerospace has reported soaring demand for inflight Wi-Fi among US air passengers.
The company published research claiming “inflight Wi-Fi influences the flight selection of 66% of passengers”.
Honeywell commissioned a study among more than 1,000 US adults who had used Wi-Fi on a flight in the past 12 months.
It reported half the respondents “would be willing to give up another convenience for Wi-Fi that is as fast as at home”.
Almost one in four reported paying more for a flight with Wi-Fi.
The findings contradict previous findings by aviation technology company Sita suggesting a limited willingness to pay for inflight Wi-Fi among air passengers.
Honeywell reported: “22% [of respondents] admitted they have paid more for a flight with Wi-Fi and 17% have switched from their preferred airline because another carrier had better Wi-Fi offerings.”
It suggested: “Demand is so strong that 37% would be upset if they did not have Wi-Fi access on their next flight.”
Honeywell Aerospace vice-president of product management and marketing Jack Jacobs said: “The commercial aviation industry has to pay attention to the demands of passengers.
“Customers are accustomed to easy access to Wi-Fi and they expect it to be fast and consistent like at home or work. Those expectations are expanding into the sky.”
The study, carried out online by US market research firm Kelton, found 85% of respondents would use Wi-Fi on flights if it was free.
It suggested one third would be willing to “show up three hours before boarding” a flight and almost half (45%) “would endure airport security twice” in return for faster Wi-Fi.
A recent expansion of airport security checks to mobile devices suggests passengers spending more time at security may be one price of increased connectivity in the air.