Trends Report

Surfing Aloft: Airline Passengers Want In-Flight Internet Access

January 18th, 2008
HH
Henry Harteveldt
With contributors:
Carrie Johnson , Scott Wright

Summary

JetBlue Airways' launch of in-flight email and instant messaging (IM) access inaugurates a new area of in-flight connectivity among US airlines. Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Virgin America, and US Airways have announced their plans to test airborne Internet access, yet 12 other scheduled US airlines have not, leaving them vulnerable to poaching from competitors. US leisure airline passengers — for whom in-flight Internet access is discretionary and self-funded — show strong interest in going online, even on flights as short as an hour. Passengers who want to use the Internet aloft have first-class demographics, are more brand-loyal than the typical passenger, and are more willing to trade up for a better experience. Airlines need to start catering to these travelers by installing in-seat power, and they shouldn't feel compelled to offer this amenity for free: Passengers will pay for it.

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