Posted on: 15 October 2014 by Ross McSweeny
Cheapflights.co.uk (Cheapflights) recently completed a survey of 1,073 adults based in the UK, to get an idea for the number of passengers wanting to make use of in-flight connectivity – specifically data and voice calls – on their mobile phones.“Just over 70 per cent of respondents wanted to be able to stay in touch via their mobile while in the air,” explained Cheapflights travel expert Oonagh Shiel.However, when the company also compiled a table summing up the types of connectivity available on 20 airlines popular with UK fliers, it found that only 55% of said airlines covered offered any connectivity services at all.Interestingly, it’s difficult to define any trends from Cheapflights’ table, apart from the fact that in-flight Wi-Fi is far more commonly available than mobile connectivity. Having said that, some airlines are bucking the trend, with Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic permitting mobile use but having no in-flight internet amenities.And whilst Cheapflights draws the conclusion that “Middle Eastern carriers charge the lowest tariffs,” it acknowledges discrepancies in price across the board are far more noticeable.Turkish Airlines is the only airline in the chart to provide connectivity for free, whilst prices on other airlines range from approximately £1.71 per hour on Emirates (one of the noted Middle Eastern carriers), all the way up to £9.62 per hour on Aer Lingus.Cheapflights also warns passengers that their mobile provider’s international rates “can vary from cheaper-than-when-at-home through to the truly budget-breaking”.Shiel comments, “Wi-Fi has, thankfully, become cheaper in recent years. Mobile phone use abroad – roaming – is following a similar path, so we expect in-flight costs to drop as demand increases and technology develops.”She seems to be hinting towards the fact that whilst in-flight connectivity (mobile or internet) is currently being rolled out across many airlines, it’s still a long way from being anywhere near a standardised, homogenous field. Talking about the future of mobile use in-flight, Shiel predicts “designated quiet zones (as on trains) will become a feature on larger aircraft, allowing some passengers to digitally detox and to escape the hustle and bustle below.”And, just like Inflight-Online.com, Shiel is interested to see what impact the recent revised guidelines on in-flight mobile use have on cabin behaviour.Respondents to Cheapflights survey consisted of passengers travelling on both domestic and international flights across all cabin classes to represent a general flight audience.
Stephanie Taylor, editorial assistant,Infllight / Inflight-Online.com