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Wi-Fi is the way for airlines to get ahead, according to Populus research

Our addiction to technology is now more or less unbridled, and our love of it seemingly spans all corners of the globe. Previous Populus qualitative research has uncovered the differences between nations when it comes to trust in technology. While China and India have been found to be the most open to new technologies, France and Germany are the most cautious (of the 11 nations surveyed).

There’s one piece of technology however, that is showing no signs of its popularity abating. According to Populus research, more than three quarters of respondents (78%) say that Wi-Fi is fundamental to daily life.

The public’s passion for Wi-Fi has encroached far beyond the home and the workplace. Increasingly, it’s available while we’re on the move too. The London Underground boasts free Wi-Fi, with tunnel Wi-Fi reportedly on the way. It comes as standard from many railway providers, and the government is increasingly exploring what 5G connectivity could bring to the transport sector.

Our research suggests that the airline industry is no exception. In the ever-competitive airline industry, airlines that offer on-board Wi-Fi may have the edge over other providers. According to new Populus research conducted on behalf of Inmarsat:

  • 90% of flyers flying with children would use Wi-Fi to keep them entertained
  • More than half of flyers (53%) would swap an inflight G&T for access to Wi-Fi
  • Half of nervous flyers (51%) would use Wi-Fi to remain in contact with family and friends

Love is in the Air

With more than a third of passengers (34%) admitting that they have been attracted to another passenger on their flight, it’s unsurprising that more than half (57%) of those respondents wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to find ‘the one’ on the plane.

People are increasingly finding love online. eHarmony estimates that by the year 2040, 70% of relationships will be able to attribute their beginnings from either online dating or online communication[1].

Connected in a Business World

In this day and age, flexible and remote working increasingly comes as standard. A study involving 8,000 global employees and employers conducted by Vodafone in 2016 found that three-quarters of companies worldwide have already adopted flexible working policies and 61% of them believe that it has increased their company’s profits[2].

Our research supports the view that airlines that adopt Wi-Fi capabilities on flights could reap the benefits. 87% of business travellers said they would use Wi-Fi on the plane to be more productive.

Whether flying for work or pleasure, it appears to be only a matter of time until Wi-Fi is an expectation, not a luxury.

Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said:

“Wi-Fi is an essential part of daily life on the ground, and airline passengers see no reason why their time on a flight should be restricted or spent any differently. Whether it’s used for sending that important work email, entertaining the children or even connecting with fellow passengers, staying online is becoming a crucial part of the inflight experience for today’s airline passengers.”

You can read more about the research here.

Populus’s Omnibus surveys deliver fast, accurate results and nationally representative samples for a range of transport organisations and government agencies. Find out more by contacting us on +44 [0]20 7253 9900 or emailing info@populus.co.uk.


Populus interviewed 9,341 adults online between 18th April to 14th May 2018 in each of the following regions: Europe, NAM, LATAM, IMEA and APAC. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. For more information go to www.populus.co.uk.

[1] https://www.eharmony.co.uk/dating-advice/online-dating-unplugged/over-50-of-couples-will-meet-online-by-2031#.W37iVs5KjIU

[2] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/future-technologies/evolution-of-remote-working/

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