In 2014, WiFi is an expected amenity in all the places people spend time.  At SocialSign.in, we believe it should be available everywhere, but there are definitely places and businesses that the general public associate with free WiFi more than others.  Outside of coffee shops and hotels, that has grown to become airports, and even on planes themselves.  While WiFi in airports is nothing new, the idea of it being free is one that is slowly being expected, and adopted, more and more around the world.

In this blog post, we’re going to cover the state of free WiFi in airports and planes, with recents news and research from this year as our foundation.

Consumer Expectations
This may be eye opening to you if you aren’t constantly thinking about WiFi like we do.

In addition to that Skyscanner graphic, a study conducted by iPass in May wrote about “The Challenges of the Connected Traveler” and the importance of WiFi to business travelers.  Below are the most interesting things they found.

iPass The Challenges of the Connected TraveleriPass infographic WiFi in the skyAccording to the feedback they received when speaking to frequent travelers, the four key factors they want in a WiFi network are:

1) Ease of Login (single click, one profile that can be remembered and reused)
2) Security (the idea of entering credit card details to pay for WiFi doesn’t sit well)
3) Price (they believe it should be free)
4) No clutter (a clean login experience with no advertising)

If you’re interested in reading their full report, you can find it here.

As a traveler it’s easy to be frustrated when your plane doesn’t have WiFi, or even worse, when you pay for it and it doesn’t work as well as you may expect.  But then again…

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 11.27.10 AM

If you’re curious why you didn’t have WiFi on your most recent flight, this short time-lapse video by United Airlines from February 2014 will give you a look into the work involved in bringing internet connectivity and WiFi to passengers.

For a deeper dive into the nine day process of how satellite WiFi is installed on their planes, visit their blog and see it happen step-by-step.

Airport Advancements

North America:

Earlier this week we read in USA today about the addition of free WiFi in two Houston airports. That got us thinking about the availability of free airport WiFi around the world.  A New York Times article from earlier this year reported that 12/30 of the most popular airports in the U.S. offer free WiFi, which seemed a little low to us.  We did our own independent research and wrote a separate post with what we discovered at the 50 busiest airports in North America.


T
he 50 Busiest Airports in North America: WiFi Report

Europe:

Compared to the 50 busiest airports in North America, Europe is actually ahead of the curve. According to a new infographic from Skycanner, 48/50 of the busiest airports in Europe offer free WiFi, but only 24 of those 48 offer unlimited access.  The others have time restrictions that range from 15 minutes to 3 hours.  For a full list of those airports you can read this article in the Daily Mail.  Below is a an infographic of how airports in the UK stack up from that story.

Skyscanner UK WiFi
WiFi in the Sky

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported a new deal reached by Virgin Atlantic airlines and GoGo.   They’ll be the first international airline to use GoGo’s new “2Ku” satellite-based system for WiFI connectivity in the sky.  GoGo isn’t free, charging $5 per hour and offering monthly unlimited packages for frequent flyers, but if they can provide the speed and consistency people expect to stream Netflix without frustration it may be worth it for some.  In the United States, GoGo currently works with Delta, American and US Airlines as well, with mixed results.

JetBlue is one airline with a history of innovation and marching to the beat of their own drum, which is why they developed their own WiFi solution for their fleet of planes.  Not only is it free, but they claim it’s faster than the competition.  Read the story of JetBlue’s innovative in-flight WiFi by visiting their website, then check out all the love their happy customers are giving them on Twitter using the service.  Yesterday, JetBlue reached an impressive milestone for their in-flight WiFi service, which was announced today on their social media channels.  While we don’t know how many WiFi users their competitors have through services like GoGo, it’s clear that JetBlue is proud of their #FlyFi service.


Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 2.40.12 PM

If you are at an airport or on a flight using WiFi, let us know about your experience!  Comment on this post or tweet @SocialSign.in to let us know how well it works.  If you aren’t traveling but happen to come across a business that you believe needs free WiFi, let us know on our website and we’ll reach out to them.

If you are a business owner who currently has WiFi and isn’t leveraging it to achieve your marketing goals and connect with your actual customers, well, you need to contact us ASAP.