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

By David Flynn, August 7 2018

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

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Grannular

Grannular

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 290

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

346

346

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2017

Total posts 87

Same, I've never had good consistent WiFi on a plane anyway.

Austline

Austline

23 Aug 2011

Total posts 57

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.

Fergo747

Fergo747

30 Nov 2016

Total posts 14

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.

Rod H

Rod H

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 121

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 !!!

Neon

Neon

31 Jul 2018

Total posts 9

Not for me! It's a nice drink and maybe a movie or some music.

Ourmanin

Ourmanin

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 Jun 2018

Total posts 65

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.

JKH

JKH

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2017

Total posts 131

Skewed research? Let’s all continue to be worker slaves in the air as well. Not me. I’ll take the glass of wine!

markpk

markpk

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 456

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...

Ourmanin

Ourmanin

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 Jun 2018

Total posts 65

I have to say that the comment section here provides me with enormous reassurance around the readership of ausbt!

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2336

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.

Zac

Zac

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 May 2014

Total posts 129

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 ;)

Zac

Zac

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 May 2014

Total posts 129

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..

moa999

moa999

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1378

Bit of a weird survey.

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

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


reno

reno

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Sep 2013

Total posts 469

Why quote this survey

bmc

bmc

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Aug 2013

Total posts 139

#WineNotWifi

bmc

bmc

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Aug 2013

Total posts 139

Having said that, I don't mind the odd bit of WiFi to play some phone games. Cetainely not for work

paabt

paabt

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

03 Nov 2017

Total posts 4

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.

Woet

Woet

08 Aug 2018

Total posts 2

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.

Nburgess31

Nburgess31

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 May 2017

Total posts 10

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.

rambler

rambler

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2013

Total posts 25

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.

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2336

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!)

TLH1964

TLH1964

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 7

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!

kinnoda

kinnoda

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Dec 2011

Total posts 10

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.

Woet

Woet

08 Aug 2018

Total posts 2

Then leave your WiFi turned off?

blaz

blaz

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2018

Total posts 28

I suspect that it is an either /or thing...wifi or a relaxing wine,not both.

simonj

simonj

British Airways - Executive Club

10 Apr 2015

Total posts 9

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...

retread.

retread.

10 Jun 2018

Total posts 2

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!

OmarAwny

OmarAwny

20 Sep 2017

Total posts 4

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.

nippoc

nippoc

08 Aug 2018

Total posts 1

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.

Notso Swift

Notso Swift

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Oct 2016

Total posts 109

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

Clancy

Clancy

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Jan 2016

Total posts 55

Thanks for the offer, thought, whatever, but I'll keep the drink...!!!

Vulch

Vulch

09 Jan 2016

Total posts 44

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

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2336

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.

crosscourt

crosscourt

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 351

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

kimshep

kimshep

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 492

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?

Clancy

Clancy

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Jan 2016

Total posts 55

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. :)

Himeno

Himeno

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 931

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.

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