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BizReport : Mobile Marketing : July 06, 2014

In-flight use of electronic devices not taking off

In October, 2013, the FAA relaxed rules on the use of personal electronic devices on airlines. However, an expected significant increase in the use of such devices in-flight has not eventuated, according to a new study.

by Helen Leggatt

Several surveys conducted in 2013 suggested that most air travelers would use their mobile device during a flight if they had the option. AeroMobile surveyed 2,000 UK consumers and found 70% of Brits would use their mobile device during a flight and most expect in-flight connectivity to be standard within the next few years.

Similarly, of the 500 U.S. travelers surveyed by in 2013, 80% said they would like the option to connect to the Internet during a flight. A survey from Honeywell Aerospace found that 80% of airline passengers from the U.S., U.K. and Singapore expect in-flight connectivity and would give up legroom, snacks and even bathroom access to be able to use personal electronic devices in mid-air.

However, a survey by DePaul University, "The Personal Tech Tidal Wave: The Rising Use of Electronic Devices on Intercity Bus, Planes & Trains", has found that despite the FAA's relaxed regulations the use of mobile electronics in-flight has increased by only a small percentage and use remains about the same this year as last.

The self-reporting survey found that passenger use of personal electronic devices has risen just 0.7% on airlines.

"The change appears to have been greeted unenthusiastically by most travelers, who are still unable to connect to Wi-Fi or 3G/4G systems, send text messages, or place phone calls while in flight," states the study. "Whereas 35.3% were observed using devices at observed points last year, 35.9% were observed doing so this year. Most passengers instead opted to devote their time to reading print material, eating, sleeping, and relaxing."

According to Joe Schwieterman, co-author of the study and director of the Chaddick Institute, air travelers lack of enthusiasm is probably due to the fact they are still not able to email, text, surf the Internet or make phone calls during take-off and landing - processes which can take up more than 40 minutes of flight time.

"We expected the new policies to encourage more consumers to remain 'powered up' from gate to gate, but that simply didn't happen," he said.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: air travel, mobile usage, travel research

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