This is the view of Andrew Shaw, Solutions Manager at Amadeus Southern Africa, who is commenting on the introduction of in-flight Wi-Fi to South African skies.
In the next few years, onboard Wi-Fi access will become common on all airlines, both locally and globally. This is then going to significantly change the way that travelers communicate and interact, and holds tremendous opportunities for travel industry players to not only enhance the travel experience, but also introduce seamless and self-help services.
There will no longer be a communication ‘blackout’ while in transit, which removes a lot of the stress and frustration if passengers are on a tight schedule or if their routing is dependent on issues such as traffic, for example. Travellers can therefore be kept abreast of and check on connecting flights and other travel arrangements at their destination throughout the entire travel lifecycle.
The phenomenal growth in internet-connected mobile devices in South Africa is going to drive the adoption of in-flight services locally, suggests Shaw. This is expected to result in many new travel-specific mobile apps that offer anything from weather and traffic reports to travel provider-specific portals that try to retain the traveler’s attention throughout the journey.
This ability to communicate all the time is also going to impact social media interactions, which is a boon for companies that have embraced this but potentially a threat for those that have not yet introduced services to take advantage of this 21st Century phenomenon.
There are also tremendous opportunities for airlines themselves, who now have a way to provide real time entertainment of the traveler’s choice, with a major benefit being the ability to increase revenue through in-flight purchases that can now be effected using mobile and online payment systems.