Inflight Wi-Fi has become an important competitive tool for airlines. Those that offer a robust high-speed Internet solution quite clearly have a leg up on the competition.
It’s easy to find evidence to support this assertion. On social media, some travelers in the US loudly grouse when Wi-Fi isn’t available. Their tweets are too many to mention, as are their complaints on forums like FlyerTalk and Routehappy.
Chandra Jacobs, the co-founder of airport travel tech start-up tripchi, recently rated United Airlines Flight 1072 a meager C+ due in large part to the fact that the Boeing 737-900 did not offer connectivity, as it had claimed.
“As soon as we took off, the flight attendant announced the Wi-Fi was not working. Frustrating! This was part of the reason I booked this specific flight on this specific aircraft – to get work done and be connected via email,” she vented in a blog post. As reported on RGN, United has been struggling to roll out a consistent Wi-Fi experience (it has no fewer than three different connectivity systems).
Outside the United States, the competitive landscape for connectivity is also heating up. Case in point – Qatar Airways previously said it had no interest in retrofitting aircraft with inflight connectivity, but then the airline quickly did a u-turn and began installing Panasonic Avionics’ Ku-band satellite-supported solution on select Airbus A330-200s. Why? We have to believe its decision has something to do with the fact that fellow Gulf carriers Etihad Airways, Emirates and Gulf Air are retrofitting their aircraft with Panasonic Ku.
We recently sat down with CBSnews.com to talk about how airlines are vying for the best Wi-Fi, and why the competition is now well and truly fierce. See the interview below.