The Extremely Limited Use Rate for Inflight Internet

Runway Girl makes some assumptions about AirCell’s inflight internet usage and costs, thinks they’re doing very poorly — people just don’t want to pay for inflight internet — but projects they’ll break even in three years.

She thinks they’re getting six users per flight on average, even with all of the giveaways going on. On short hops I suspect usage is quite limited. It’s a real step forward on mid-cons or longer, for sure. But it is interesting that paid adoption continues to be so low, whether Runway Girl’s numbers are plausible or not.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Power outlets will have more to do with use than its cost.

    I just flew SFO-EWR on United metal. Neither wireless nor power (in F, no less). Given that my batteries last about 2 hours, I would not have paid for it had it been an option. With a power plug at the seat, I would have gotten almost 3 times that and would have ante-ed up.

  2. I used the free Delta code deltatrygogo on my last flight. I agree that the day rate needs to be better. $9.95 for one flight is just nutz. I would maybe pay $5-10 for 24 hours. And yes, more power to is needed on flights as almost no one other than me has spent the cash for a 6 hr battery!

  3. Improvements in power outlets will help, but the main factor is that passengers simply don’t know about the option at all, or they assume it is too complex or expensive. If they could snap their fingers and be online without hassle for $5, they would do it much more frequently.

  4. I think they need to come up with a bundle, IN FLIGHT and ON THE GROUND usage partnership with the RCC and other clubs. Pay a bit more, get more than one flight AND on the ground usage in the airport or club. that would probably get the buyer to ante up more

  5. Airlines can make money with free Internet service the same way that they make money offering bonus miles and upgrades. It’s a tool to lock in their most profitable customers. Free Internet for elites is a cost to the airlines, but one that will pay off over time through increased sales of full fares.

    Airlines need to look at Internet service the same way they look at any other frequent flier benefit. Then the correct decision will be clear.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *