- Wi-Fi is taking to the skies, and 25% of passenger journeys on planes — or 1 billion trips — will be on an aircraft with in-flight connectivity (IFC) in 2018, according to a Deloitte prediction. The number represents a 20% year-over-year increase in IFC and could generate airlines close to $1 billion in revenue.
- At the start of 2018, only about one-third of commercial flights will offer IFC, but technology improvements are promoting the business case, Deloitte said. Both satellite and air to ground (ATG) connectivity has improved, and by 2018, ATG providers will be able to offer internet speeds of up to 100 Mbits/second. That's about 10 times faster than current networks in use.
- Now, when flying the friendly skies, "most passengers" will express their joy in flight with a "#selfieinthesky," which passengers can share across social media while 35,000 feet up, according to Deloitte.
Move over stuttering airline internet connection: If what Deloitte predicts comes true, air travel will no longer be synonymous with being disconnected.
While the availability of internet in-flight is nothing new, it is becoming more popular and now routes feature higher connection speeds and allow for more data transfers, Deloitte reports.
Deloitte envisions a time in the near future where no airline has a connectivity dead zone.
Key to boosting internet speeds in-flight is creating a business case for implementation that isn't just consumer happiness. Sure, it is nice to keep passengers preoccupied with internet surfing, but the revenue from charging for internet access alone is often not enough to lure airlines to make the shift.
Instead, IFC can also be used to promote airline operations, Deloitte said. For example, American Airlines equipped flight attendants in 2012 with internet-enabled tablets to access back-end systems in real time. Other airlines have followed suit, and now Delta is shifting its flight crews from Surface to iOS products in the coming year.
Airlines have long struggled to modernize, not only in the air, but on the ground too. The shift to more digital systems will make it far easier, but airlines and their providers will have to improve internet connectivity in the air before it can be completely reliable. In-flight hiccups often persist, a fate that is certain until internet delivery is proven and honed.