Technology

Airline WiFi becoming more common as smaller carriers connect

Posted by Ben Ireland on
Airline WiFi becoming more common as smaller carriers connect

More airlines, including many smaller carriers, have introduced in-flight WiFi – representing a 17% increase in accessibility on 2017.

The findings from flight shopping platform Routehappy’s latest annual report show 12 additional airlines now offer in-flight WiFi, meaning 82 airlines across the globe now offer connections.

Connectivity in the US is markedly higher than in the rest of the world. The report found that US airlines offer at least a chance of WiFi on 86% of available seat miles, compared to 32% in the rest of the world – an area that recorded a 17% annual increase in WiFi availability.

Overall, 43% of available seat miles globally offered at least the chance of WiFi, up 10% on 2017.

Routehappy says “WiFi at 32,000 feet is now more ubiquitous than ever before”.

It found the top three airlines that offer the most ASMs with WiFi are Delta, American, and Emirates, in that order.

Three carriers – Icelandair, Southwest, and Virgin Atlantic – now offer WiFi on 100% of their flights while 13 airlines offer WiFi on 100% of long-haul flights: Air Europa, Delta, Emirates, Etihad, Eurowings, EVA Air, Iberia, Kuwait, Lufthansa, SAS, Scoot, United, and Virgin Atlantic.

Airlines appear to be upgrading the speed of their WiFi connections. What Routehappy termed ‘best WiFi’ is now available on 16% of ASMs worldwide, a 129% increase from 2017, but ‘basic WiFi’ is available on 27% of connected ASMs, down 16% on a year ago.

The middle ground, known as ‘better WiFi’, is available on 57% of connected ASMs worldwide.

The rise in connectivity can be in part put down to small airlines improving connectivity, according to Routehappy. The likes of Air Astana from Kazakhstan, Air Côte d’Ivoire from Ivory Coast, and Air Mauritius from Mauritius began offering WiFi in 2017, it said.

Routehappy also said the cost of rolling out WiFi at 32,000 ft has decreased in recent years, making it more affordable for smaller carriers to provide it.

Chief executive Robert Albert said: “2017 was another progressive year for in-flight WiFi, with a large increase in the amount of airlines that provide WiFi access, on top of the growing availability of nearly half the available seat miles worldwide.

“The 129% growth of Best WiFi is extraordinary, it shows the commitment airlines are making to best in class systems and we expect to see this number increase even more in 2018.”

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