01 Apr 2019
SITAONAIR Chat Plan: Are you ready to WeChat, iMessage and WhatsApp inflight?
SITAONAIR’s Chat Plan service gives airline passengers added text messaging mojo.
By Yann Cabaret, SITAONAIR VP Customer Programs & Cabin Services
One of the amazing achievements of our connected age is how we can stay in constant contact with family and friends wherever we travel. Text messaging is, for many of us, our favourite way to communicate. But when you commute, jet-set or go on vacation, what is your messaging channel of choice? Do you use iMessage, WhatsApp, WeChat or Viber? Or are you a social media fan who uses Facebook Messenger or Instagram for keeping up with life and work?
Whatever your preference, airline passengers and crews now have even more options for messaging family, friends and colleagues when they fly, just as they do on the ground, through SITAONAIR’s inflight connectivity (IFC) Chat Plan.
An important feature of our best-in-class IFC Wi-Fi portal, Internet ONAIR, the Chat Plan enables airlines to offer passengers low-cost instant access to some of the most popular messaging applications around.
Today, more so than ever before, airlines want to provide relevant IFC experiences to passengers. SITA’s 2018 IT Trends Insights found 90% of airlines are planning to invest in wireless broadband services for passengers up to 2021. For nearly two-thirds (62%), improving their onboard passenger experience is the biggest motivator.
All in all, by enhancing the overall passenger experience, IFC offers opportunities to boost both passenger loyalty to airline brands, and ancillary revenue.
For airlines ambitious to enhance these connected travelers’ onboard experiences, our Chat Plan feature is a great way to give passengers that initial flavour of inflight connectivity to encourage them onto further usage. We have been working with airlines across the board, to try and bring this to life.
Our work with Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) perfectly illustrates SITAONAIR’s capabilities in action. The carrier was the first in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia to offer free WhatsApp, iMessage and Facebook Messenger text messaging to passengers using the SITAONAIR Chat Plan. In testament to its success, the carrier recently won the 2019 Inflight Middle East ‘Airline IFEC experience’ award, after more than 500,000 passengers enjoyed the complimentary service in the four months since launch. Such was the success that they have now decided to add WeChat to their portfolio of offerings as well – which we are seamlessly helping them to achieve.
How it works
The Chat Plan gives passengers IFC access to specific messaging applications, enabling them to exchange texts via Facebook Messenger, iMessage, Instagram, Viber, WeChat and or WhatsApp during their flight, depending on the airline’s preference. SITAONAIR makes the activation of this service as easy as possible for airlines, tailoring the Chat Plan to feature the airline’s selected apps, with various pricing options, at the carrier’s discretion.