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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : September 07, 2012 Americans want in-flight WiFi

When airfare search engine asked U.S travelers if they wanted the ability to connect to the Internet at 30,000ft, the vast majority said yes, indicating a higher tolerance for in-flight mobile use than previously expected.

by Helen Leggatt

Five hundred U.S. travelers took part in's survey, of which 80% said they would like the option to connect to the Internet during a flight. That's significantly more than the 5% of U.K. travelers who, in a European version of's survey, wanted Internet in-flight.

Of the 500 U.S. travelers:

65% - Think it is important that airlines offer Internet access on flights;
36% - Would take advantage of in-flight Internet access to find information and deals relating to their destination;
26% - Would use in-flight Internet to catch up on emails.

However, almost half (49%) said they don't expect to pay extra to use their Internet connected devices and 27% would pay no more than $5.

On the topic of mobile use during flights, travelers weren't quite as enthusiastic with 38% believing that allowing mobile phone use on flights would mean putting up with the annoyance of people talking too loudly.

Furthermore, many (59%) don't understand the "flight mode" setting on their mobile device and 46% don't know why they are asked to turn off their devices.

Many of the major U.S. airlines have now begun to equip their planes with new in-flight WiFi service. According to research and consulting firm In-Stat, around 8% of U.S. airline passengers use the service, up from 4% at the end of 2010.

In-Stat estimates that, by the end of 2012, 10% of passengers will use in-flight WiFi and that, in 2011, $155 million in charges for in-flight Internet services was collected.

Tags: airline industry, mobile device, mobile Internet, smartphone, travel trends, WiFi trends

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