Passengers read mobile devices in the economy class cabin on board a Vietnam Airlines JSC aircraft during a flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi in Vietnam. (Photographer: Linh Luong Thai/Bloomberg)

Airline Passengers Are Split Over Using Phones in the Air

(Bloomberg) -- Whether you regard your next flight as a chance to kick back and relax or a valuable window to catch up on lost work may depend on where you live, according to a survey of 8,000 passengers in 10 key travel markets.

While airlines seem determined to keep passengers connected 24-7, most people from France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Britain and the U.S. are happy to have their phones rendered unusable while en route, the poll suggests. Indian, Chinese and Arab passengers, by contrast, are generally keen to make calls.

Some 69 percent of Germans reckon it’s not necessary to be permanently available, compared to just 12 percent of Indians and 18 percent of Chinese, according to the survey. The risk of disturbance was cited as the chief concern surrounding inflight phone links, with Japanese travelers most worried. Many Asian flyers said they’d pay for connectivity even if the flight cost much more.

Airline Passengers Are Split Over Using Phones in the Air

While Eastern passengers may be keen to work -- or chat -- they’re also most concerned about the contents of refresher packs handed out by airlines.

Travelers from the United Arab Emirates, China and India said having a toothbrush and eye mask was important or very important, compared with only 38 percent of Swedes. Fewer than one-third of respondents in any country wanted a shower, spa, wellness service or fitness equipment on board.

Generously sized seating is regarded as a priority on long-haul flights, especially for Americans, with 59 percent of U.S. respondents ranking bottom space and legroom as very important. Better seating is also the single-biggest priority for people when considering the future of air travel, the poll suggests.

Among other findings the survey by Nielsen suggests:

  • The British are the most likely to be bothered about waiting in line at the airport check-in; Swedes are the most chilled
  • Having a range of inflight films, music and audio-books on offer matters most to customers from the U.S., India and the U.A.E.
  • Japanese flyers are the least keen on hearing updates from the pilot, whereas people from India and South Africa lap up progress reports
  • Fast, free Internet access is globally desirable but especially popular in China, South Africa and the U.S.

The survey was commissioned for Turkish Airlines’ annual Global Aviation Trends report.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.