Survey: 50% of passengers would swap their inflight drink for WiFi

Survey: 50% of passengers would swap their inflight drink for WiFi

Just how badly do you want to stay connected above the clouds? Enough to swap your free inflight glass of wine, whisky, gin or even Champagne for a gratis serve of WiFi?

One in two passengers would make that trade, according to a survey conducted by satellite Internet provider Inmarsat – which leads us to suspect the other 50% of travellers would prefer happily sip on that drink and reflect on life at 40,000 feet without the real world intruding.

Other findings from Inmarsat's fourth annual worldwide Inflight Connectivity Survey, conducted by market research company Populus, are more predictable, but also far more positive for airline embracing sky-high WiFi. 

78% of passengers across the Asia-Pacific region say they "would be more likely to rebook with an airline if high-quality inflight WiFi was available". We suspect that 'high-quality' – meaning a fast, stable and reliable connection – is the key here.

International WiFi often dawdles at 2Mbps or even less, but Qantas and Virgin Australia are now chalking up speeds of 10-15Mbps on their domestic services, while a new wave of broadband WiFi such as Qatar Airways' Super WiFi delivers a very useable 5-8Mbps.

Business travellers are serious about using inflight Internet to turn flying time into productive time, with 88% saying they "are likely to work on a plane to be productive if inflight WiFi is available."

In fact, a claimed 86% of all passengers would use inflight WiFi if it was available on their next flight – with that number rising to 92% among business travellers.

This shows a growing acceptance of and appreciation for inflight Internet, compared to a reported 72% of passengers who had access to inflight Wi-Fi in the last year having used it.

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

38 comments

  • Dave

    Grannular

    7 Aug, 2018 02:55 pm

    I am part of the 50% who would prefer a glass of red and be uncontactable while in the air.
    Members who gave thanks

    cian, Airmun, BrisbanePE, deegee93

  • 346

    346

    7 Aug, 2018 03:24 pm

    Same, I've never had good consistent WiFi on a plane anyway.
    No member give thanks

  • Austline

    Austline

    7 Aug, 2018 03:36 pm

    Rubbish I prefer to relax and have a glass of bubbly something nice to eat and then sleep. Good to get away the office for a while.
    No member give thanks

  • Fergo747

    Fergo747

    7 Aug, 2018 03:50 pm

    It's one of the only 'sanctuaries' left in the world in which one can enjoy a drink in peace and not be contacted. I for one do not welcome onboard wifi and therefore the expectation that when I'm travelling for work that I can be responding to emails etc instead of switching off and enjoying a glass of bubbles or red.
    Member who gave thanks

    BatteryBen

  • Rod Harmer

    Rod H

    7 Aug, 2018 04:04 pm

    They must have done that survey when a group from AA were on a holiday flight!!! For the very few business people who must remain or should remain contactable maybe so but for all of the rest of us why on earth would we want to have wifi when there's so much in the IFE and who in their right mind would knock back a red / white/ bubbly for the wifi. Perhaps I have answered my own question when I asked " who in their right mind ".
    Remember :"a day without wine is like a day without sunshine "
    And : " A day without wifi is a day of peace and quiet " especially when flying.
    I know which one I prefer !!!
    No member give thanks

  • Neon

    Neon

    7 Aug, 2018 04:30 pm

    Not for me! It's a nice drink and maybe a movie or some music.
    No member give thanks

  • James O'Mahony

    Ourmanin

    7 Aug, 2018 05:57 pm

    Totally agree with all the comments (so far!) it’s one of the (diminishing numbers of) pleasures of flying that you can switch off (literally in the case of WiFi) for a few hours. I cannot genuinely believe any one person is so important that they can’t actually be uncontactable for a few hours. A half decent glass (or two or...) and some mindless films or a good book are a much more pleasant way to pass the time, at least in my mind and I flew over 250,000 km last year so a fair amount of time in the air.
    No member give thanks

  • Jason Hamilton

    JKH

    7 Aug, 2018 06:45 pm

    Skewed research? Let’s all continue to be worker slaves in the air as well. Not me. I’ll take the glass of wine!
    No member give thanks

  • markpk

    markpk

    7 Aug, 2018 07:19 pm

    Having had a few flights recently on Qantas with inflight WiFi and found myself non-stop on Slack working I've learnt my lesson and won't indulge in WiFi - movie, wine, downtime...
    No member give thanks

  • James O'Mahony

    Ourmanin

    7 Aug, 2018 08:24 pm

    I have to say that the comment section here provides me with enormous reassurance around the readership of ausbt!
    No member give thanks

  • David Flynn

    David

    7 Aug, 2018 08:38 pm

    I'm in the middle on this one.

    I've learned to really appreciate inflight WiFi on some flights – very handy for getting work done at a more leisurely pace instead of trying to hammer through it at the lounge pre-flight, which in turn means I can enjoy the lounge a little more, especially when travelling with some other journos and socialising.

    At the same time, while I rarely drink on flights, there's nothing quite like dropping out of fifth (sixth?) gear and relaxing above the clouds, letting the brain idle and thoughts flow as they will, or simply having time to think, to mull ideas from all sorts of angles, rather than type and work.
    No member give thanks

  • Fqtv

    Zac

    7 Aug, 2018 08:54 pm

    Good point re avoiding the pre-flight rush to send the last emails before the flight.. that does tend to ruin the lounge experience. Probably the real downside is the expectation that could emerge in future that we’re all online/contactable/available during flights rather than just having access to wifi if you really need it. If we can somehow preserve the flight as a time you can switch off then all for wifi... although still not in lieu of the champagne ;)
    No member give thanks

  • Fqtv

    Zac

    7 Aug, 2018 08:40 pm

    What?! No way would I swap my inflight wine or champers for WiFi! Interesting it’s sponsored by an inflight WiFi service provider... I wonder what the inflight wine sponsored survey says ;). As others have noted, the flight is one of the last places you can truely disconnect and switch off, and it’s wonderful..
    Member who gave thanks

    JKH

  • moa999

    moa999

    7 Aug, 2018 10:48 pm

    Bit of a weird survey.

    I'll have both thanks, and a second drink.

    Reality is the international satellites aren't quite there yet.


    No member give thanks

  • Robert Eden

    reno
    Banned

    8 Aug, 2018 12:26 am

    Why quote this survey
    No member give thanks

  • bmc

    bmc

    8 Aug, 2018 11:28 am

    #WineNotWifi
    No member give thanks

  • bmc

    bmc

    8 Aug, 2018 11:30 am

    Having said that, I don't mind the odd bit of WiFi to play some phone games. Cetainely not for work
    No member give thanks

  • Per Andersen

    paabt

    8 Aug, 2018 03:20 pm

    Totally disagree - As somebody suggested the survey must have been done on a flight with only AA members. I won't even appreciate Wifi. Long haul flights are he best way to relax without anybody can reach you - like being on a deserted islands. You can do all your emails in the airport not on the plane.
    Member who gave thanks

    JKH

  • Woet

    Woet

    8 Aug, 2018 03:36 pm

    Each time this comes up a bunch of people say "I hate WiFi, I prefer being uncontactable". You know you don't have to enable it right? Just leave it off if that's what you want. No need to restrict other people that might want or need WiFi.
    No member give thanks

  • Nathan Burgess

    Nburgess31

    8 Aug, 2018 04:49 pm

    You are right Woet you can turn it off but when wifi on planes becomes standard work can then start expecting you to be working on the plane, it's now a work location. I know there is pressure to be working on weekends just because you have access to secure IT work systems from home.

    You see it in the lounges with work colleagues expecting you to work up until last call for the plane, now you start expending that to you are doing nothing on the plane so answer my question, approve my request, submit that report etc.

    No member give thanks

  • rambler

    rambler

    8 Aug, 2018 03:45 pm

    Is that an American survey? If so, another case of US figures used to support a proposal, rather than those from First World countries (i.e. those that like a drink.) An extraordinary number of Yanks simply don't touch the stuff anyway.
    No member give thanks

  • David Flynn

    David

    8 Aug, 2018 03:55 pm

    Global survey, we are referencing Asia-Pac figures (although responses here indicate the next survey should be further sub-divided into Asia-Pacific, Australia and Australian Business Traveller readers!)

    Member who gave thanks

    Ourmanin

  • Timothy Hegarty

    TLH1964

    8 Aug, 2018 04:03 pm

    I agree with everyone here who prefers a drink over wifi. I do a reasonable number of long haul international flights each year for business and generally have to hit the ground running when I arrive at my destination. Having that time in the air (thankfully in Business Class) to relax and unwind is invaluable. The last thing I need is to turn up in Paris (or wherever) feeling tired and frazzled having just spent the last 21 hours reading and sending emails! And no, in case you're wondering - I also don't arrive hung over - that would be even worse - everything in moderation!
    No member give thanks

  • Daniel Kinnoch

    kinnoda

    8 Aug, 2018 04:09 pm

    Wine all the way thanks. I love being uncontactable for many hours at a time. I feel like it’s one of the last places you can thoroughly enjoy some private ‘me’ time.
    No member give thanks

  • Woet

    Woet

    8 Aug, 2018 04:14 pm

    Then leave your WiFi turned off?
    No member give thanks

  • michael blazewicz

    blaz

    8 Aug, 2018 04:39 pm

    I suspect that it is an either /or thing...wifi or a relaxing wine,not both.
    No member give thanks

  • Simon Jenkins

    simonj

    8 Aug, 2018 04:13 pm

    I’ve enjoyed taking the chairman flights (SQ day flights from Singapore) and working with WiFi on the flight rather then taking the hideous night flight...
    No member give thanks

  • Peter

    retread.

    8 Aug, 2018 04:18 pm

    Who were the passengers surveyed? Once or twice a year holiday makers (not that that's a bad thing!) that just can't be without their social media feeds for a whole 14hr sector, or business travellers? Or were the respondents on short sectors? Makes a big difference! And when push came to shove, I'm tipping the 'yes' voters would want to know why they couldn't have the wine too! I'll stick with the drink and relax!
    No member give thanks

  • OmarAwny

    OmarAwny

    8 Aug, 2018 05:03 pm

    Whilst I understand the comments regarding flights being the “last sanctuary” etc, I have to say I would value a stable, fast connection in flight.

    Remember, just because you have wifi, doesn’t mean you have to use it any more than having wine on the flight means you have to drink it (all).

    I’d like to catch up on social media, message family and friends, read, learn, do some lazy surfing (all the stuff you can’t do most days on the ground) and yes, if the time is appropriate and the need is there, do some work.

    It’s all about balance - in the air or anywhere else.
    Member who gave thanks

    nippoc

  • nippoc

    nippoc

    8 Aug, 2018 06:17 pm

    No way. Travelled heaps for business and now travelling for enjoyment. Keep the champagne flowing! I love to check out of the world while I am enjoying the front end of the plane these days, so couldn't care less about Internet. I'm on hoidays every day.
    No member give thanks

  • Blair Coull

    Notso Swift

    8 Aug, 2018 07:15 pm

    WiFi for work vs WifI for pleasure...
    I am with pretty much everyone, being on a plane is a great excuse to turn off! My old life was high demand from my employer (ie land international at 6 am and straight to the office...) with WiFi I would have been working all night and still going straight to work! Worst part is I would have done it.
    Further, I don't want the bloke next to me jumping on to skype calls and bothering everyone else, that is the equivalent of verbal smoking

    No member give thanks

  • Clancy

    Clancy

    8 Aug, 2018 08:40 pm

    Thanks for the offer, thought, whatever, but I'll keep the drink...!!!
    No member give thanks

  • V Champion

    Vulch

    8 Aug, 2018 09:17 pm

    The suggestion that Qantas Wi-Fi can be ‘10-15mbps’ is garbage. Just did two flights on different routes and both were are largely unusable <1mbps
    No member give thanks

  • David Flynn

    David

    8 Aug, 2018 09:34 pm

    We've been on many Qantas WiFi flights and clocked 10-15Mbps. I was on a BNE-MEL Boeing 737 a fortnight ago and Speedtest showed a solid 14Mbps, and the connection itself was suitably snappy.
    No member give thanks

  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    9 Aug, 2018 09:50 pm

    Oh p u r l e a s e! The 50% that voted to pass up the wine will be bitching if they didn't get one while they were composing emails etc
    No member give thanks

  • kimshep

    kimshep

    10 Aug, 2018 10:16 am

    What a fascinating article / set of responses.

    From the 35 responses above, we can deduce that the majority of respondees are presumably not … bon-fide 'business travellers'. Why ? Check the following quotes from the original article:

    • "78% of passengers across the Asia-Pacific region say they "would be more likely to rebook with an airline if high-quality inflight WiFi was available".
    • Business travellers are serious about using inflight Internet to turn flying time into productive time, with 88% saying they "are likely to work on a plane to be productive if inflight WiFi is available."
    • In fact, a claimed 86% of all passengers would use inflight WiFi if it was available on their next flight – with that number rising to 92% among business travellers.
    • This shows a growing acceptance of and appreciation for inflight Internet, compared to a reported 72% of passengers who had access to inflight Wi-Fi in the last year having used it.

    So, from the points above, either the respondees are not representative of the business community or, as I suspect; the logic of the question posed by market research firm Populus (on behalf of Immarsat) is total drivel.

    It makes me wonder whether the 'survey' was - in part - partially financed by a carrier(s) with an interest in trying whether to determine if they should charge outright for wi-fi or alternatively, try some dodgy 'trade-off' situation?

    No member give thanks

  • Clancy

    Clancy

    10 Aug, 2018 06:03 pm

    kimshep - As a 'bon-fide business traveller', I am normally on the late flight home and usually at the back with the cheapest ticket, work is great but you need some time to yourself. Maybe the above %'s are for a certain market segment, because when I look around on a late flight most people aren't stressed because they can't work, so maybe some of your assertations are correct. :)
    No member give thanks

  • Himeno

    Himeno

    10 Aug, 2018 10:36 pm

    How much would the wifi cost otherwise?

    If it's a choice between free wifi and alcohol, I'm taking the wifi. If its a much better drink (hot chocolate or juice), harder choice.
    No member give thanks

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22 Oct, 2018 02:28 am

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