Passengers on Planes: iPads vs. Laptops

What do airline passengers really want? Information. How do they want it? According to a survey from FlightView, travelers want to access info electronically on a personal device. And which personal device is a tale of changing tastes and technology.

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Smartphones Supreme and Tablets Gaining

Smartphones are saturating the traveling class – nearly 82 percent of all passengers surveyed, which includes business and leisure travelers, use travel with and use their smartphones. Another trend: tablets including devices like iPads are now being used by more than 38 percent of travelers; the stalwart laptop still has the edge at 38 percent, but based on trends, FlightView fully expects tablet use to pass personal computers sometime next year.

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iPads and Tablets: Convenience Factor

The survey does not explain the changes, but here are a couple of possibilities:

Convenience: Tablets are generally much smaller and lighter than laptops and fit well in tight places including a seatback pocket.

Carry-on allowance: The FAA allows passengers to bring just two items onboard an airline cabin – though some airlines have been known to look the other way. If the airline is a stickler for the rules, a working business woman juggling a carry-on, laptop and purse will find it much easier to slip a tablet in a carry-on than a laptop.

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Laptops: Business Travel Favorite

All is not lost for the laptop. For reasons not made clear, more of the survey respondents who describe themselves as business travelers still prefer the personal computer or laptop.

What travelers want to do most with their devices – of any types – is to be able to use them, which is why free Wi-Fi scored so high in the survey. And nearly 94 percent said what they really want to know is the latest information on flight status.

Question: Laptop or Tablet?

Question for readers: When you travel, do you carry a laptop or tablet? We’d like to know which – and why.

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Published: September 11, 2012