Passengers are ‘unenthusiastic’ about gate-to-gate connectivity

Mobile phone being used in flight.
A passenger using a mobile phone in flight.

Since the change in FAA policy to allow PED use “gate-to-gate”, technology use on airlines has remained virtually flat and continues to lag behind other modes of transport.

That is the result of a study by the Chaddick Institute in the US, which suggests that the relaxation of FAA policy on the use of personal electronic devices is having little effect.

“Consumers are unenthusiastic about the change, since they still cannot surf the Internet, email, text or place phone calls during takeoff or landing, which can consume more than 40 minutes of flight time,” said Joe Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute.

The study was based on research conducted on 20 commercial flights operating throughout the continental United States with Delta, American, US Airways and Southwest.

Jet Blue, with its LiveTV-equipped aircraft, was not included in the study.

The new FAA policy allows the use of certain devices during takeoffs and landings, but appears to have been greeted unenthusiastically by flyers.

Whereas 35.3% of passengers were observed using devices at observed points last year, 35.9% were observed doing so in 2014. Most passengers instead opted to devote their time to reading print material, eating, sleeping, and relaxing.

The Institute adds that “there has been no explicit timeline for a further liberalisation of policy that would allow travellers to communicate during the takeoff/landing phase of flights”.

However, the good news is that tablet and e-reader use has risen sharply. More than one-third of devices used on airplanes are now tablets or e-readers.

At any given point, about 12.7% of airline passengers are using these devices.

It predicts that tablet use will continue to grow due to the diminishing weight and increasing capabilities of tablets. Longer battery life also provides greater assurance that travellers have adequate power to use over longer distances.

Read the Chaddick Study

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