New research among 11,000 global air travellers finds 97% of passengers use personal devices when flying, as desire for inflight Wi-Fi grows 40% since before the pandemic
Air passengers’confidence eight times higher than a year ago, 83% worldwide now happy to fly
More than eight in ten passengers (83%) feel confident flying again, a significant rise from just one in ten (10%) this time last year, according to Inmarsat’s 2022 Passenger Experience Survey, which surveyed more than 11,000 people worldwide who have travelled by air in the past 12 months.
Despite ongoing travel challenges, confidence in air travel has returned in full force. This is true across the globe , with Brazil and Saudi Arabia (90%) the most confident, the UK close to average (81%), and South Korea (53%) the least. Now, airlines are focused on creating the best possible flying experience, especially when it comes to inflight connectivity, which is no surprise given that 97% of passengers currently use their personal devices when flying.
A large majority (77%) said that inflight Wi-Fi is important to them when they travel – up from just 55% in 2018’s survey. This growth was most pronounced in the Middle East, as 94% and 92% of passengers from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, respectively, say Wi-Fi is important in the air.
This offers a major opportunity for airlines, as 82% of passengers globally said they would rebook with an airline that offered quality inflight Wi-Fi, with 92% of business travellers and 90% of parents with children under 18 agreeing. Just 67% agreed before the pandemic, demonstrating how much more important inflight Wi-Fi has become.
Niels Steenstrup, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said “It’s fantastic to see so many travellers confident in taking to the skies again following the pandemic, and is testament to the airline industry’s focus in getting air travel back on track so quickly. The fact that the overwhelming majority of passengers now use their own devices onboard – and so many feel Wi-Fi is important to them when flying – presents an unmissable opportunity for airlines.
“Not only can inflight connectivity help airlines attract new customers and keep existing ones happy, but it also opens the door to new revenue generation opportunities for airlines to support the industry’s ongoing recovery. We’ve been tracking the desire for inflight connectivity for years and can see it shows no signs of slowing down. Reliable Wi-Fi is undoubtedly fundamental to an excellent passenger experience. Giving passengers the flying experience they want and focusing on providing quality Wi-Fi for those who want to work or play while onboard, will be the gift that keeps on giving for passengers and for airlines.”
When it’s available, 4 in 5 passengers (79%) are connecting to onboard Wi-Fi, but only 5% say they’re able to make the most of this connectivity. Topping the wish list for more than half (51%) of passengers was greater availability of charging ports onboard to ensure their devices are charged up for entertainment, work, shopping and more while 35% want access to real-time flight updates throughout their journey.
What are passengers willing to do to guarantee the best Wi-Fi experience? Over a third (38%) say they would watch adverts when connected, while 32% would even give up alcoholic beverages onboard. Social media and entertainment topped the list for what passengers want to do while connected onboard, so it is no surprise that 30% said they would pay more for unlimited social media usage while flying, while 25% would pay more for unlimited downloads.
Price, however, is something passengers feel strongly about – as 47% say paying for Wi-Fi may put them off connecting, closely followed by slow connections (45%). In fact, 83% think Wi-Fi should be free on long-haul flights, although fewer than half (47%) agree for short-haul.
 The independent, statistically representative global research was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Inmarsat in August-September 2022. The research was conducted among 11,231 respondents who have travelled by air in the past year, in 10 countries worldwide: UK: 1,507 respondents; Brazil: 673, Germany: 1259; UAE: 507, Saudi Arabia: 1,004; South Korea: 505; India: 1511; Australia: 1,002; USA: 2,261 and 1,001 in Singapore.
 Figure 1: Following the COVID-19 pandemic, how confident are you, if at all, travelling in the air today?