Business travelers and frequent fliers are willing to change their travel plans depending on in-air airline Wi-Fi availability, according to a new survey by the Wi-Fi Alliance. More than 70 percent would opt for a flight with Wi-Fi access over one that provided meal service.
The survey also showed that among business travelers who have not yet used in-flight Wi-Fi, 87 percent said they would check e-mail and 63 percent would log on to work-related systems such as sales and reporting tools if Wi-Fi were available on a future flight. Of the same travelers, 95 percent said Wi-Fi access would make them more productive.
"For several years now, business and leisure travelers have relied on Wi-Fi's wide availability around the world to stay connected-and that is becoming an expectation in the sky as well," said Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance. "We are excited to see numerous airlines offering in-flight Wi-Fi to passengers, and expect Wi-Fi will soon be as commonplace in planes as it is today in homes, businesses and public areas."
In-air Wi-Fi is increasingly becoming more commonplace with more than 500 planes offering wireless connections. American Airlines has equipped more than 100 of its MD-80 aircraft with Wi-Fi and plans to up that number to 150 by the end of the year. Virgin America, AirTran Airways, Delta, Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines are all either testing or already providing sky high Wi-Fi.
The survey also reflected business travelers' attitudes about work-related travel, with 40 percent saying it is stressful and 64 percent claiming they feel "on the clock" when they are traveling for work. Half of the survey respondents say they frequently take a red-eye flight because they must be reachable during business hours.
The survey was conducted among 480 frequent business travelers ages 18 and older, including 150 frequent business travelers who have used in-flight Wi-Fi, between Aug. 11-19. The Wi-Fi Alliance and Wakefield Research said the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 4.47 percentage points.