LONDON -- A study published this week by mobile communications group Inmarsat shows the availability of inflight Wi-Fi is a key driver in creating customer loyalty and satisfaction.
The report -- Inmarsat's fourth annual Inflight Connectivity Survey -- was prepared in conjunction with market research company Populus and includes responses from more than 9,300 adults from around the globe.
Key to airline operators, 67 percent of all respondents said they are more likely to rebook with an operator if high-quality Wi-Fi is available, while 55 percent of those surveyed described inflight Wi-Fi as "crucial".
"Wi-Fi is essential to daily life on the ground, and airline passengers see no reason why their time on a flight should be restricted or spent any differently," said Philip Balaam, president of Inmarsat Aviation.
The survey showed passengers rank inflight connectivity as their fourth most important factor in choosing an airline, following the carrier's reputation, free checked baggage and extra leg room.
Other numbers from the study show that:
- 81 percent of passengers would use inflight Wi-Fi if available on their next flight, rising to 81 percent of 18-30 year-olds, 90 percent of business travelers, and 90 percent traveling with children;
- 74 percent of business travelers view inflight Wi-Fi as crucial;
- 67 percent of passengers are more likely to rebook with an airline if high-quality Wi-Fi were available;
- 65 percent of passengers that have had Wi-Fi access in the past year have used it; and
- More than half would be willing to give up inflight alcoholic drinks for inflight Wi-Fi.
"Whether it's used for sending that important work email, entertaining children or even connecting with fellow passengers, staying online is becoming a crucial part of the inflight experience for today's airline passengers," Balaam said.