Survey: Airport Wi-Fi More Important Than Food

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News Posted: Sat, May 23 2009 12:15 PM

For the business traveler (and the traveler in generally, really), Wi-Fi is important -- crucial, even. But more important than sustenance? That's exactly what was found in a recent survey by American Airlines and HP, where some 47% of business travelers responded that Wi-Fi was the "most important airport amenity, outscoring basic travels needs such as food by nearly 30 percentage points."

The online study gathered results from 1,500 frequent travelers who log more than 20 trips a year on three or more airlines, and it also found that the largest complaint wasn't delayed flights, cramped areas, endless fees or the lack of an AC outlet in coach -- no, it was dead PC batteries. Yes, dead batteries, a problem that can absolutely be solved by simply buying a spare before the trip commences.

The survey also found that work efficiency drops dramatically while in the air, undoubtedly tied to the general unavailability of Wi-Fi in the skies. Of course, certain airlines are doing their best to change that, but largely, the major legacy carriers have been slow in adopting and implementing the technology. Comically enough, American Airlines purports to be taking this news to heart and helping out, but it's far and away one of the worst airlines to travel on if looking for ample connectivity at the gate and in the sky. Who knows, maybe the tide is turning, but we've still got quite awhile before Internet on the airplane is the rule and not the exception.

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Super Dave replied on Sun, May 24 2009 12:14 AM

So good to see that the business travelers have their priorities straight!

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Dave_HH replied on Sun, May 24 2009 12:56 AM

I wonder when the airlines will finally get a keen sense of the obvious. Hello? Be a forerunner in personal connectivity and the customer will have a better experience with you. Waiting on a delayed flight isn't as big a deal if you've got a WiFi connection. This is not rocket science people... The airlines need to get with the times. Jet Blue has gotten a clue it seems. Wonder if others will follow and if Jet Blue will continue to innovate.

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drivintin replied on Sun, May 24 2009 9:43 AM

I can say as an airline pilot, Wifi is such a precious commodity. I think the problem is most airports have signed contracts with companies like Boingo, that charge for wifi access. Which only makes the user even more upset that once they get out their laptop they have to pay for access. But I agree, I look for wifi as the first thing when I have a delay, or sit at any airport.

As far as wifi in the planes, one of the biggest hurdles was overcame last year, that is weight. I am not sure what on earth they had in the old systems, but it would weigh several hundred pounds. That not only decreases amount of product (be it people, bags, cargo), but also increases the fuel burn. I heard the new systems now are under 100lbs., but the cost is still really high. It is not as simple as buying a unit and plugging it in. It has to be certified for the airplane, have to have maintenance personal install it. Probably has a power button that all your aircraft, and pilot logs have to have an update to know about. FAA has to sign off on every single step. It is a process that can take a simple $100k device, and make it suddenly cost $500k.


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3vi1 replied on Sun, May 24 2009 9:23 PM

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?


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Kiristo replied on Wed, May 27 2009 8:44 AM

Having to wait for your flight, pulling out your laptop only to ifnd you have to pay for wifi is pretty annoying. Best experience I had at an airport was one I had free wifi at, and the airport looked like crap. It was being rebuilt and half of it was closed off, but free wifi made my wait go by like nothing.

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