Technology Remains A Top Traveler Priority

A new study conducted by American Airlines (AA) and HP found that the ability to use technology efficiently while traveling is a top priority for frequent flyers, with more than 90 percent carrying a notebook computer and phone during trips. The study says travelers are frustrated with drained electronic batteries, among other problems. To help, AA reports it has made significant steps in recent months to enhance the technological capabilities of passengers inflight. This includes expanding its inflight Wi-Fi service to adding DC power ports on its new fleet of 737-800s – the first time American’s fleet has been outfitted with DC power.

More than 47 percent of business travelers surveyed indicated Wi-Fi was the most important airport amenity, outscoring basic travels needs such as food by nearly 30 percentage points.

“We know that our business customers rely on technology to be as productive as possible while on the road,” said Manuel de Oyarzabal, director of customer research at American Airlines. “As part of understanding our best customers, the insight from this survey will help us develop and market additional products that our customers value.”

Sponsored by HP, the American Airlines Customer Research online study was conducted with more than 1,500 frequent travelers who log more than 20 trips a year on three or more airlines. Key findings included:

*    Biggest Complaint: Dead PC Batteries. A combined 67.7 percent of frequent travelers surveyed said a dead battery (41.4 percent) and no place to plug in (26.3 percent) were their largest complaints. Power outlets also are in high demand at the gate and onboard the flight. Twenty-four percent said access to electrical power is the most important technology amenity aboard a plane.
*    Almost No One Travels Without Technology. More than 90 percent of frequent travelers surveyed have a notebook and phone in hand. If Wi-Fi were enabled onboard, 70.5 percent would choose their notebook as their primary device for conducting business-related work, with mobile phones (with telephone turned off) at a distant second at 19.8 percent.
*    Work Efficiency Drops Dramatically In The Air. Business travelers say they can work efficiently at the airport and their hotels, but efficiency drops dramatically onboard the plane. More than 96 percent of respondents conduct work-related activities at their hotels. Eighty-five percent conduct work-related activities at the airport, but this number drops to 52.6 percent onboard a flight. Travelers say they scramble to conduct work-related items (for example, sending e-mails, making calls) at the gate before they take off (76 percent).

“Business travelers expect connectivity and see it as a necessity, not a luxury,” said Carol Hess-Nickels, director of marketing in the notebook global business unit at HP. “HP understands these demands and has put forward a broad range of mobile products for on-the-go professionals.”

American Airlines offers power ports on all of its mainline aircraft, available at each seat in First and Business class, as well as selected rows in the Economy cabin. Outlets may be used to operate laptop computers and charge cell phones and other devices with a maximum 75-watt capacity. As part of its fleet enhancement, American’s new 737-800s will have additional 110V AC power ports available: two per row on each side of the aisle in Economy class and one at each seat in First Class.

Earlier this year, American announced it had completed the trial stage of its inflight Internet service and has decided to install Gogo Inflight Internet on more than 300 domestic aircraft over the next two years. The expansion will help American, which last August became the first U.S. airline to launch the Gogo service, further enhancing its customers’ travel experience and meet their evolving travel needs.

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