Air Travellers Oppose Use of Mobile Phones in Flight

by VR Sreeraman on Sep 30 2008 11:20 AM

Most travellers oppose the use of mobile phones on aeroplanes but would not mind striking up a chat with their seatmate, a survey released to AFP on Monday showed.

The survey by global market research firm Synovate found that many travellers would rather look for cheaper flights than curtail their travel plans due to rising costs.

Customers in five Asian markets -- Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand -- were surveyed along with those in Brazil, Britain, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States.

The survey, conducted in July via e-mail, telephone and face-to-face interviews, involved 13,000 respondents, of which 6,900 said they had travelled by air, according to Synovate.

Asked whether the use of cellphones should be barred on planes, 77 percent of those who had flown agreed, Synovate said, adding "the idea of listening to all those conversations in a confined space is too much for most people".

More than 90 percent of travellers in Taiwan, Thailand and Hong Kong agreed, while there was also "pretty high" approval in Britain, France and Germany.

Least likely to agree were respondents from the UAE, at 47 percent, and Egypt, where 48 percent said mobile phones should be barred on planes.

The European Commission in April opened the way for air passengers to talk or send text messages during flights, announcing measures to harmonise the technical and licensing requirements for using mobile phones aboard aircraft.

While the survey found respondents were averse to talking on mobile phones, 57 percent of those who had flown said they enjoyed making conversation with their seatmates.

Filipinos and Malaysians were the most likely to chat with their neighbours, while Thais, Taiwanese and Hong Kongers were the least likely.

"Malaysia and the Philippines are probably the most extrovert of these Asian markets -- Hong Kong and Taiwan are both fairly introverted," said Synovate managing director for Malaysia, Steve Murphy.

The firm's Philippines managing director, Carole Sarthou, cited the migratory nature of Filipinos. Overseas workers from the country like sharing their experiences, she said.

The survey showed that 39 percent of travellers would rather hunt for bargain fares than put off their travel plans. Brazilians were the most enthusiastic in looking for cheaper tickets, followed by Britons and Canadians.

Only 10 percent said they had decided to delay travel plans as rising fuel prices hit air travel costs.

Taiwanese and Hong Kongers were the most likely to travel less this year, at 27 percent and 25 percent respectively.

Fifty-six percent of respondents who had flown said air travel was merely about getting to their destination fast.

At 12 percent, Filipinos were the largest group saying the best thing about air travel was the food.

Those from Hong Kong were most likely overall, at 11 percent, to say they liked air travel for "uninterrupted time to catch up on work," Synovate said.