Biggest Hassles of Tech and Travel

Hate it when you’re notebook battery runs out of juice during a trip? You’re not alone.

Having a dead PC battery or no place to charge it was the biggest complaint of frequent travelers in a survey sponsored by HP (NYSE: HPQ) released on Friday. The survey was an American Airlines Customer Research online study conducted with more than 1,500 frequent travelers who log more than 20 trips a year on three or more airlines.

A combined 67.7 percent of frequent travelers surveyed said a dead battery (41.4 percent) and no place to plug in (26.3 percent) were their largest complaints. Power outlets also are in high demand at the gate and onboard the flight. Twenty-four percent said access to electrical power is the most important technology amenity aboard a plane.

The survey also indicated frequent travelers have a hunger for connectivity that exceeds their hunger for, well, food. More than 47 percent of business travelers surveyed indicated Wi-Fi was the most important airport amenity, outscoring basic travels needs such as food by nearly 30 percentage points.

If Wi-Fi were enabled onboard, 70.5 percent said they would choose their notebook as their primary device for conducting business-related work, with mobile phones (with telephony turned off) a distant second at 19.8 percent.

While some airlines, including American, have enabled in-flight Wi-Fi via third party services, its use is still ramping up. Most business travelers in the survey say they’re far less efficient in-flight than in an airport or hotel.

American said it plans to install the Gogo Inflight Internet on more than 300 domestic aircraft over the next two years. Like other airlines, American is expanding the available of power outlets beyond First Class and Business, to Economy seats as well.

More than 96 percent of respondents said they conduct work-related activities at their hotels. Eighty-five percent conduct work-related activities at the airport, but this number drops to 52.6 percent onboard a flight.

Many travelers say they scramble to conduct work-related items (for example, sending e-mails, making calls) at the gate before they take off (76 percent). Of course there are other considerations in a plane, like space and chatty fellow passengers (or screaming babies) that could make getting work done more difficult.

“Lack of Wi-Fi is not the one driver keeping us from a higher GDP,” joked Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance. “But it would increase productivity on-board if you had that expectation it would be available,” she told

Davis-Felner, a frequent traveler herself, says she organizes her “thinking work” on a flight when she knows she won’t have an Internet connection.

“Business travelers expect connectivity and see it as a necessity, not a luxury,” said Carol Hess-Nickels, director of marketing in HP’s Notebook Global Business Unit, in a statement.

Davis-Felner noted Wi-Fi is expanding to other forms of travel, including cars. She said there’s great potential for non-drivers to use Internet connectivity for entertainment as well as location and monitoring services including security and asset tracking. “The IEEE has a work group devoted to developing vehicular Wi-Fi standards,” she added.

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