AIX2015: SITA OnAir sees 10x increase in Wi-Fi use if free

Passenger using a laptop on board an aircraft
A passenger using a laptop in flight. Image: Emirates.

More than 20 airlines around the world are providing free inflight Wi-Fi, and, according to the latest estimate from SITA OnAir, this will more than double by 2020.

François Rodriguez, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer of SITA OnAir, said: “The take-up rate increases by up to 10 times when airlines provide free inflight Wi-Fi. Passengers want inflight connectivity, but very few expect to pay for it.

“We are becoming digital omnivores and, depending on the context, we want to connect our phones, tablets and laptops all the time.

“SITA OnAir is helping airlines keep up with this growing trend by providing the industry with the business model that meets the airline’s commercial strategy and brand positioning.”

The company’s passenger research shows nearly every passenger has the potential to be connected:

  • 97% have a personal electronic device of some form
  • 81% carry a smartphone
  • 43% bring a tablet
  • 43% fly with a laptop
  • 18% have a phone, a tablet and a laptop

“People are addicted to being connected,” continued Rodriguez. “A study in the US showed that 60% of people cannot go without Wi-Fi for more than a day.

“Thirty nine percent say they would sacrifice coffee and 43% would give up chocolate in return for Wi-Fi access.

“Airlines need to think hard about inflight amenities. Newspapers and peanuts are traditionally used to keep passengers happy, but things have changed and the new generation of passengers clearly prefer to access social media instead.”

SITA OnAir says different business models have been adopted to meet this demand. For example, Emirates provides free Wi-Fi for all its passengers, in every class, as a standard cabin service.

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