Allianz Global Assistance Discovers That Americans Want Free In-Flight Texting, Wi-Fi and Cellular Calls, but Don’t Want their Fellow Passengers to Use it
Those who thought that airplanes might remain a haven from emails, text messages and phone calls may want to think again. The majority of Americans would use free Wi-Fi (76.2 percent) and cellular calls (55.5 percent), and nearly half (44.7 percent) would use free text messaging services if provided on a flight, according to a new survey* conducted by leading travel insurance provider Allianz Global Assistance.
The desire to stay connected is so pervasive that 40 percent of people don’t always put their phone on airplane mode and almost 14 percent of people have secretly snuck a text message or call during a flight**.
The main reasons respondents* reported wanting to have free in-flight text messaging and cellular calls are to use in case of an emergency (35 percent text messaging/34 percent cellular calls) and to stay connected with friends and family (38.6 percent text messaging/31.6 percent cellular calls). Additional responses included having the ability to coordinate airport pick-up (14.7 percent text messaging/15.4 percent cellular calls) and connection to work (11.7 percent text messaging/10.4 percent cellular calls).
The primary reason that people are not interested in text messaging and cellular calls relates to their fellow passengers’ usage. In fact, 27.7 percent deemed other passengers’ usage as the factor that makes them least interested in free text messaging services in-flight. For cellular calls, 30.9 percent were least interested due to noise level, and 20.3 percent because of fellow passengers’ usage.
Other reasons making flyers weary of connectivity include: safety concerns regarding in-flight usage (23.9 percent text messaging/15.2 percent cellular calls), being connected to work (19.9 percent text messaging/11.6 percent cellular calls), safety concerns regarding terrorism (19.6 percent text messaging/15.7 percent cellular calls) and being connected to family and friends (8.8 percent text messaging/6.2 percent cellular calls).
Among all three in-flight capability options, free Wi-Fi was preferred over texting and cellular calls, yet nearly half of respondents** (40 percent) feel more obligated to work when they have Wi-Fi. It is no surprise then that the ability to use social media (22.4 percent) and streaming services (22.1 percent) were found most important*, suggesting that while travelers are interested in staying “on” in flight, they prefer to use their devices for personal reasons instead of work.
“Despite talk of the need to unplug and a desire to digital detox, we’ve found that many Americans do want to be connected while in flight,” said Daniel Durazo, director of communications at Allianz Global Assistance USA. “Airlines have recognized this and are beginning to cater to this customer desire by offering free in-flight text messaging and Wi-Fi, and we anticipate they will continue to do so as technologies advance. In the future, passengers may even be able to make phone calls on flights, which could lead to new airline design and sources of revenue, like quiet cabins, which 46 percent of Americans would consider paying extra for if airlines did allow phone calls.”
Allianz Global Assistance offers travel insurance through most major U.S. airlines, leading travel agents, online travel agencies, other travel suppliers and directly to consumers. For more information on Allianz Global Assistance and the policies offered for travelers, please visit: www.allianztravelinsurance.com.
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*Methodology 1: This 10-question survey was administered to the U.S. internet population from October 19, 2017 – October 21, 2017, receiving 1,520 responses. The methodology is explained here and a snapshot of survey findings are listed below:
1. Would you use free messaging services (e.g. iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger) if provided on a flight?
- 55.3% – No
- 44.7% – Yes
2. Would you use free cellular service/calls if provided on a flight?
- 55.5% – Yes
- 44.5% – No
3. Since sending photos and videos is not supported by free in-flight messaging services, would you consider paying more for the ability to do so?
- 78.4% – No
- 16.6% – Depends on the cost
- 5.0% – Yes
4. What factor makes you most interested in having free messaging service capabilities on a flight?
- 38.6% – Being connected to family and friends
- 35.0% – Ability to use in case of emergency
- 14.7% – Ability to coordinate airport pick-up
- 11.7% – Being connected to work
5. What factor makes you less interested in having free messaging service capabilities on a flight?
- 27.7% – Other passengers’ usage
- 23.9% – Safety concerns regarding in-flight usage
- 19.9% – Being connected to work
- 19.6% – Safety concerns regarding terrorism
- 8.8% – Being connected to friends and family
6. What factor makes you most interested in having free cellular service capabilities/calls on a flight?
- 34.0% – Ability to use in case of emergency
- 31.6% – Being connected to friends and family
- 15.4% – Ability to coordinate airport pick-up
- 10.4% – Being connected to work
- 8.5% – Ability to plan other travel arrangements
7. What factor makes you less interested in having free cellular service capabilities/calls on a flight?
- 30.9% – Noise lever
- 20.3% – Other passengers’ usage
- 15.7% – Safety concerns regarding terrorism
- 15.2% – Safety concerns regarding in-flight usage
- 11.6% – Being connected to work
- 6.2% – Being connected to friends and family
8. Would you use free in-flight Wi-Fi if provided on a flight?
- 76.2% – Yes
- 23.8% – No
9. What factor makes you most interested in having in-flight Wi-Fi?
- 22.4% – Checking social media
- 22.1% – Using streaming services
- 20.4% – Checking emails
- 19.1% – 19.1% – Keeping up with the news
- 16.0% – Ability to work in-flight
10. If airlines allowed cellular service/calls, would you consider paying more for a 'quiet cabin' where cell service is not allowed?
- 53.9% – No
- 27.8% – Depends on the cost
- 18.2% – Yes
**Methodology 2: This 10-question survey was administered to the U.S. internet population from October 5, 2017 – October 8, 2017, receiving 1,502 responses. The methodology is explained here and a snapshot of survey findings are listed below:
1. How often do you put your phone on airplane more or turn off your cellular device during flight?
- 59.9% – Always
- 17.2% – Never
- 10.4% – Almost Always
- 6.4% – Sometimes
- 6.0% – Almost Never
2. Have you ever snuck a text message or made a call secretly on a flight?
- 86.1% – No, I have never snuck a text or call
- 11.2% – Yes, I have texted
- 2.7% – Yes, I have made a call
3. If you flight has wi-fi, do you feel more obligated to work on that flight?
- 48.1% – Never
- 25.9% – Sometime
- 12.9% – Almost Never
- 7.1% – Almost Always
- 6.0% – Always
Allianz Global Assistance USA
Allianz Global Assistance USA (AGA Service Company) is a leading consumer specialty insurance and assistance company. We provide insurance to 25 million customers annually and are best known for our Allianz Travel Insurance plans. In addition to travel insurance, Allianz Global Assistance USA offers tuition insurance, event ticket protection, registration protection for endurance events and unique travel assistance services such as international medical assistance and concierge services. The company also serves as an outsource provider for in-bound call center services and claims administration for credit card companies.
Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply to all plans. Plans are available only to U.S. residents. Not all plans are available in all jurisdictions. For a complete description of the coverage and benefit limits offered under your plan, carefully review your plan’s Letter of Confirmation/Declarations and Certificate of Insurance/Policy. Insurance coverage is underwritten by BCS Insurance Company (OH, Administrative Office: Oakbrook Terrace, IL), rated “A‐” (Excellent) by A.M. Best Co., under BCS Form No. 52.201 series or 52.401 series, or Jefferson Insurance Company (NY, Administrative Office: Richmond, VA), rated “A+” (Superior) by A.M. Best Co., under Jefferson Form No. 101‐C series or 101‐P series, or Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and Affiliated Companies (One Nationwide Plaza, Columbus, OH 43215‐2200), under Form Nos. SRTC 2000 and NSHTC 2500, each rated “A+” (Superior) by A.M. Best Co., depending on state of residence. Allianz Travel Insurance products are distributed by Allianz Global Assistance, a brand of AGA Service Company. AGA Service Company is the licensed producer and administrator of these plans and an affiliate of Jefferson Insurance Company. The insured shall not receive any special benefit or advantage due to the affiliation between AGA Service Company and Jefferson Insurance Company. Noninsurance benefits/products are provided and serviced by AGA Service Company.
Media Contact: Daniel Durazo
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