Study: In-flight phone use needs rules

Research from Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) shows that 92 per cent of respondents would expect airlines to enforce a code of acceptable etiquette for the use of mobile phones on board flights.
SAS regularly canvasses more than 500 members of its frequent flier programme, EuroBonus, to gauge members’ views on their business travel needs. SAS’ latest study provides an interesting insight into passenger opinion of on board mobile technology.

The 2005 Skytrax survey* into on board mobile usage indicated that 89 per cent of airline passengers were against the introduction of systems to permit on board mobile phone usage. The SAS study shows that passengers are now calling for censorship rather than an outright ban.

More than a third of respondents (37 per cent) would take advantage of new technology and use mobiles whilst on board. A third (35 per cent) of the respondents claimed that they would not use their mobile phones whilst on board. However there is a large middle ground where 28 per cent of respondents are unsure of whether they would use the technology or not.  Winning over the 28 per cent of passenger who are currently forming the “undecided middle ground” will be important to technology providers turning a profit from sales of this new technology.

When it comes to others using the technology, 73 per cent of respondents stated that they would be unhappy with those seated around them using mobile phones for telephone conversations. The real advantage with the new technology will be the real time text function, which will enable passengers to stay in contact with those on the ground without disturbing other passengers. One SAS survey respondent commented, “an airplane is like any other public space where mobile phone use can be intrusive. However, data exchange is very good.” SAS is currently the only airline to have its entire intercontinental fleet equipped with wireless broad band enabling passengers in every cabin to connect to the internet whilst on board.

Commenting on the results, Lars Ove-Filipson, General Manager SAS UK & Ireland said: “The biggest challenge for the airline industry, when this technology becomes freely available, will be ensuring that the needs of all passengers are catered for. SAS is dedicated to the needs of all of its passengers. Comfort, service and choice are paramount to our service principles. Establishing appropriate usage guidelines will be vital. This would enable all travellers greater autonomy to use their time on board productively for business or to bid goodnight to loved ones when travelling on business.”

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Feedback from respondents shows the disparity in views on this topic. “Mobility and 24/7 connectivity will become the standard - it would be great to see SAS taking the lead on innovation and progressive initiatives once again,” commented one of the survey respondent. Another respondent went on to say that, “quiet zones will have to be set up on flights to allow passengers that do not wish to be bothered to fly in peace,” and other stated that, “there should be a silence period on long haul so that sleep is not interrupted.”

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