Airline passengers have little appetite for using in-flight Wi-Fi when they are forced to pay for the privilege, The Wall Street Journal is reporting.
Around 500 planes operating across the US currently have wireless connectivity enabled in the air, with carriers noting positive feedback about the technology.
But as soon as surcharges comes into play usage reportedly tails off substantially, dealing a blow to industry hopes that Wi-Fi could be a new money-spinner.
“There’s a very substantial decline in passenger usage the minute you start charging for the service,” noted Michael Planey, a consultant specialising in passenger technologies.
“It really begins to invalidate the model on which this service is being built for the next ten years.”
Delta Air Lines is currently leading the field in terms of Wi-Fi deployment, kitting out more than 225 of its jets. American Airlines has rolled out the technology on a further 100 planes, while AirTran America and Virgin American are also both trialling it.
But according to the latest research even a nominal fee of $1 is enough to deter many passengers from signing on with their laptops, iPhones and BlackBerrys.