The travel industry is discussing now about the possibility of free seamless in flight wifi throughout the industry. Marketers and tourism professionals worldwide see in flight wifi as a corner stone of future in flight entertainment. Although airlines are investing heavily into latest technologies and aim to enable its customers to use in flight wifi when travelling with an airline, these investments into faster services are not done fast enough. Already consumers’ expectations are pretty high, with consumers expecting connectivity whenever flying and soon airlines that cater to in flight wifi will not be an exception but consumers will expect and demand staying connected on board (Skift 2013).
IN FLIGHT WIFI
Interestingly, for many consumers expectations towards connectivity when travelling are high. For airlines this is sometimes quite challenging. However, it is clear, that airlines have a vision to provide its consumers with in flight wifi that works smoothly for its users. A consumer walking into an airplane with a device, will be contacted to the internet by just walking onto the aircraft. For repeat flyers, this will be made even easier. In flight signal will be picked up straightaway and connecting to the internet will be done automatically. Ensuring a continuous experience of being connected uninterruptedly is a vision the aviation industry is following.
FREE WIFI VERSUS PAID
As usual, there is a big difference between providing wifi for free to consumers and charging for wifi. Although consumers worldwide want to stay connected, even during a flight, there is an unwillingness to pay for in flight wifi. So far, some airlines such as JetBlue offer their inflight services for free whereas others charge a small fee for wifi on board. Southwest airlines charge around $8 a day for in flight wifi per device whereas American Airlines charge $12 for 2 hours. There are differences with regards to the amount that is being charged. Hence, consumer engagement on planes can be quite low due to the costs of using the available in flight wifi. Therefore airlines investing heavily into wifi technologies might only experience limited number of engagement, as many consumers are reluctant to use in flight wifi when being charged for these services. Many consumers would not necessarily pay for in flight wifi unless it was considered as very useful and worth the investment. However for many consumers travelling for leisure this is not often the case. For business travellers, in flight wifi paid or free can be very useful and is often considered as an investment that is worth paying for.
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