Air hostesses sell sunglasses on a flight to Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang province. [Photo provided to China Daily]
So far, North America is the only place where in-flight Wi-Fi is common. Worldwide, Wi-Fi services cover 39 percent of the flights, according to Routehappy, an air travel information platform.
In the United States, 71 percent of the flights operated by domestic airlines are equipped with Wi-Fi, with Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines taking leading roles in their coverage of Wi-Fi services. Among non-US airlines, only 13 percent of the flights they operate have Wi-Fi connections, and most are limited to longhaul flights, Routehappy found.
Last year, Finnair equipped Wi-Fi and mobile payment system Alipay on all of its flights between China and Finland. After the launch of such services, its sales revenues of on-air duty-free products and other derivative products on those flights surged 100 percent to 200 percent year-on-year, according to the carrier.
"Airlines will become in-air shopping malls, and they could choose to partner with online retailers. Vendors who wish to sell their goods and services will have to pay the airlines or consider revenue split arrangements," said Susanna Li, managing director of the travel industry department of consultancy Accenture in China.
"It will help airlines to increase ancillary services revenue opportunities. They could also partner with destination ground transportations, theme parks and other service providers to deliver specialized destination content and promote their service on board," Li said.
She added that airlines will also be able to accumulate customer data and provide targeted marketing. They could also sell pre-paid Wi-Fi access passes at a discounted rate to encourage passengers to fly with the carriers again.
Besides, if there are flight delays, passengers will be able to contact ground services and make arrangements, and they will also be able to book last-minute transportation such as car pickups during a flight, Li said.
Chen Meiling contributed to this story.
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