Wi-fi more important than food, say air passengers

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Fort Worth, Texas - Gosh, you're a dedicated lot. According to a survey from American Airlines and HP, air passengers would rather go online than eat.


More than 47 percent of business travelers surveyed indicated wi-fi was the most important airport amenity, outscoring basic travel needs such as food by nearly 30 percentage points.


"We know that our business customers rely on technology to be as productive as possible while on the road," said Manuel de Oyarzabal, Director of Customer Research at American Airlines. This view is borne out by a recent survey which indicated that by 2013, there will be over 200 million in-flight broadband connections, with long haulers dominating over short haulers.


Sponsored by HP, the American Airlines Customer Research online study was conducted with more than 1,500 frequent travelers who log more than 20 trips a year on three or more airlines.


Their biggest complaint was dead PC batteries and nowhere to plug their machine in, which annoyed 67.7 percent of frequent travelers. Twenty-four percent said access to electrical power was the most important technology amenity aboard a plane.


Apparently, more than 90 percent of frequent travelers go equipped with their notebook and phone. If wi-fi were enabled onboard, 70.5 percent would choose their notebook as their primary device for conducting business-related work, with mobile phones (with telephony turned off) at a distant second at 19.8 percent.


Of course, the findings give American Airlines a great chance to show off, as it offers power ports at all first and business class seats, as well as in some rows in economy. The company has also trislled an inflight internet service and has decided to install Gogo Inflight internet on more than 300 domestic aircraft over the next two years.


We know of no plans to scrap in-flight meals, though.