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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Four out of 10 air passengers want own device for in-flight access

Some airlines are testing faster in-flight WiFi while others offer device rentals

More than 40 per cent of air passengers prefer to use their own device to access in-flight entertainment, which could be useful for airlines looking at ways to cut costs. Courtesy of Emirates Airlines
More than 40 per cent of air passengers prefer to use their own device to access in-flight entertainment, which could be useful for airlines looking at ways to cut costs. Courtesy of Emirates Airlines

More than 40 per cent of air passengers prefer their own devices to access inflight entertainment, according to a poll.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) said in its global passenger survey released on Monday that the concept of 'Bring Your Own Device' (BYOD) provided a “win for both the carriers and the passengers they carry”.

The Montreal-based aviation trade body surveyed nearly 11,000 passengers from 152 countries, finding that 42 per cent of travellers would prefer using their own devices such as tablets and smartphones to access entertainment while in the air.

“The importance of smartphone technology, the demand for more automation and personalisation throughout the travel process and desire to stay connected is not new to aviation; however the [survey] highlights the extent of the opportunities on offer and the need for airlines and airports and to invest significantly in this area,” said Nick Careen, Iata’s senior vice president for airport, passenger, cargo and security.

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He said airlines and airports need to increase easy-to-use mobile services to satisfy customers and meet demand.

“But industry can’t achieve this alone. Government support is essential to change antiquated regulations before the industry can fully transform," he said.

Etihad said on Sunday that it was introducing to its passengers from late-2018 a faster internet service that cuts current in-flight buffering. The technology from satellite operator Yahsat and telecom company du will be outfitted to an Etihad plane during the Dubai Airshow next month.

While there is a growing demand for technology, BYOD support has dropped from last year’s 51 per cent. Iata could not be reached for further comment.

American Airlines have already started to dismiss seat-back entertainment with its latest order of 100 Boeing 737s, expected to start service by the end of the year. TV screens on seats cost up to US$3 million per aircraft, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

The absence of the built-in screen can be replaced by tablets on offer from the airline. US carrier, United, announced that it was testing a programme to offer in-flight entertainment Samsung Galaxy Tab S tablet rentals on its service between Honolulu and Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Guam. This helps the airline recoup expenditures on the smart devices charging $9.99 for use of six hours or less or $14.99 for more than six hours.

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