Honeywell wireless connectivity survey in London indicates major shift in the definition of in-flight passenger comfort
Nine in ten would give up basic amenities on a flight in favour of the best, fastest connectivity service possible.
Honeywell Aerospace released a survey that signals a shift among consumers in the definition of airplane passenger comfort, and confirms an increasing demand for global transoceanic, fast and consistent in-flight wireless.

The research was conducted among more than 3,000 adults in the United Kingdom, United States and Singapore who have used in-flight Wi-Fi within the past 12 months.

Comfort Redefined

For most travellers, the current commercial flight experience can be summarized in one word: crowded. Crowded flights and cramped seats have become the norm. According to the survey, however, almost 90 percent of fliers would give up an amenity on their flight - preferred seats, extra legroom and more - to be guaranteed a faster and more consistent wireless connection. This finding potentially alters how passengers define comfort on flights. The survey indicated:

  • Almost two-thirds of fliers would rather have access to fast and consistent in-flight connectivity than sit in their preferred seat.

  • Almost a third of passengers would give up the ability to recline their seat, the majority say it would be worse not to have Wi-Fi than to sit in a non-reclining seat, and almost one-quarter of passengers would give up six inches of legroom.

  • More than two-thirds of Americans and more than three-quarters of Britons and Singaporeans would endure discomfort (i.e., a delay, additional airport security screening or sitting next to someone who invades their personal space) to ensure that their in-flight Wi-Fi is faster than their home connection.

  • About one-third of all fliers said it would be worse to get disconnected from Wi-Fi multiple times during a flight than to have to sit next to a crying baby.

Personal Trumps Professional

Survey data also indicates that travellers use Wi-Fi predominately for personal rather than professional reasons.

Typically, these fliers are concerned with maximising their productivity in the sky by reading or sending email - be it personal or work related - and staying in touch with social media channels. Results also highlighted that respondents are connecting to in-flight Wi-Fi via multiple devices while on board (66 percent U.S., 62 percent U.K., 65 percent Singapore).

  • More respondents say they use in-flight Wi-Fi predominately for personal purposes (55 percent U.S., 42 percent U.K., 40 percent Singapore), while fewer (22 percent U.S., 30 percent U.K., 29 percent Singapore) use it mostly for professional reasons.

  • When it comes to personal use, fliers not only connect largely to read or send personal email (79 percent U.S., 72 percent U.K., 83 percent Singapore), but also to log onto social networks (60 percent U.S., 50 percent U.K., 58 percent Singapore).

  • Almost three-quarters of Americans (73 percent) and two-thirds of Britons (63 percent) and Singaporeans (61 percent) want to be connected, despite whether they have to or not.

More Connections Please

More than three in four fliers surveyed think wireless access should always be available on planes. And when it comes to the current in-flight Wi-Fi experience, passengers want the type of consistency and speed experienced at home or in the office, especially on transoceanic or international flights.

  • In-flight Wi-Fi service causes frustrations for nearly nine in ten users worldwide. Inconsistent or slow connections disappoint fliers most.

  • More than one-third would be disappointed if in-flight connectivity was not available on an international flight or over an ocean.

Bill Kircos, vice president of communications, Honeywell Aerospace, commented, "We’ve all experienced the entertainment and productivity gains a connected home and office provide us. It’s clear there is now strong demand for the connected aircraft - so much so that passengers are willing to give up a preferred seat to have access to a high-speed, highly reliable broadband connection that is available across oceans and continents.”

He continued, “When it comes to current in-flight Wi-Fi, people are just plain frustrated. Not only do passengers expect every flight to offer Internet service, they also want it to behave just as though they were sitting in their office or at home. Honeywell is at the center of making this a reality.”

Going Wireless with Honeywell

Honeywell’s extensive line of satellite and connectivity products ranges from basic voice over data communications in the cockpit to high-speed connectivity with unlimited potential applications in the cockpit and cabin. Through product development and recent acquisitions and partnerships, Honeywell plans to deliver truly global high-speed in-flight connectivity to passengers by enabling airlines and airplane manufacturers to access Inmarsat’s GX Ka-band satellite constellation. By early 2015, passengers can expect to shop, access email, connect with friends on social networking sites, and enjoy live streaming for entertainment and more, and will be able to do so with a consistent connection across oceans and regions.

BlueSky Business Aviation News | 12th September 2013 | Issue #239
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