Can Satellite WiFi Kill The Airline Loyalty Program?
A new report by the London School of Economics in collaboration with Inmarsat Aviation says that airline loyalty programs are fast losing their appeal, especially among younger passengers, and that $33 billion in market share is up for grabs to the airlines that get connectivity right.
The report, entitled “Sky High Economics”, says that 87% of airline passengers are more or less “brand agnostic” and not particularly engaged with any airline loyalty program. Many of these are younger, tech savvy and so-called “tech native” passengers – those kids that have essentially grown up with the internet. This, they say, is a potential group of around 450 million passengers who would likely switch airlines if it meant getting good, fast and consistent WiFi onboard.
Inmarsat is a major player in the market for inflight connectivity, with a fleet of satellites delivering a range of connectivity services for airlines that are designed to be seamless and high-speed. They and a handful of competitors have really upped the game in recent years to the point that, on airplanes with the latest technology, data speeds are similar to what we get on the ground. So it’s no surprise that they would claim that connectivity is going to be a primary driver of brand loyalty among airline passengers in the coming years. And yet, marketing aside, it also rings true.