US Airlines Will Have No Choice But To Offer Free WIFI

Delta has started to offer free WiFi on selected flights. As a result, will other carriers have to start offering free WiFi to stay competitive? Simple Flying analyses the situation.

Airline Free Wifi
Delta has begun to offer free WiFi onboard flights. Photo: Delta Airlines

In an age where people are increasingly glued to devices, having a connection is everything. In fact, I’m writing this article while out with my partners family. All of this is made possible due to the internet.

Usually I travel on flights that are not WiFi equipped. As such, working whilst on these flights is almost impossible. Having WiFi available on board, and not just available but FREE, would be a massive bonus to anyone who likes to be able to work on the go.

The finances

Having free WiFi onboard could be deemed so valuable that airlines are willing to go out of their way to offer it. But for the airline, providing free WiFi is a significant expense, not only at the installation stage, but also in terms of paying for the use. But, for some, it could be worth it, particularly if they think they can draw passengers away from other airlines as a result.

Airlines have to do the maths and work out whether investing in free WiFi would work for them. Balancing up the cost of offering free WiFi against the extra profit that they could make from offering the service will ultimately decide if it’s an investment they want to make.

Will WiFi draw customers?

Could the offer of free WiFi influence passengers to pick a particular airline? The answer is yes, it could indeed. Business travellers can keep in touch with their colleagues, others can check which train they need to take at their destination, while I’m busy sending wing pictures to my followers.

Airline Free Wifi
In an ever-connected world, WiFi is becoming increasingly important. Photo: Dean Moriarty via Pixabay

An Inmarsat 2018 survey showed that 67% of passengers would be likely to rebook with an airline if WiFi were available on the flight. Additionally, this is a figure that rises to 83% when just considering business passengers.

However, perhaps the most revealing figure is that staying connected is so important to some, that 53% of respondents said they would give up access to alcoholic drinks on a flight to use WiFi. However, it is just important to passengers that the internet is of good quality. 54% of passengers would rather have no internet than poor service.

Free WiFi incoming

It’s likely that free WiFi will, eventually, be rolled out across all US airlines. Others like American Airlines and United will not want to miss out the internet oriented section of the market.

Airline Free Wifi
Earlier this year Norwegian Air began to offer free WiFi on flights. Photo: Norwegian Air

However, it isn’t just US airlines looking to rollout free WiFi. Norwegian Air announced they were rolling out the service earlier this year. Meanwhile, The Express reports that British Airways is also looking to provide free WiFi across its fleet. We can’t wait to see how this works on the airline’s new Airbus A350 aircraft.

Is WiFi an important factor to you when booking flights? Let us know in the comments!