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Face Time – Would you rather have WiFi or chat to your neighbor?

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Face Time – Would you rather have WiFi or chat to your neighbor?

Ponder this question: When you're on a plane, do you prefer to have no access to the internet or have to sit next to a talkative stranger?

In an era where we spend most of our time glued to our screens and not having internet connection can make most of us break into a cold sweat, the answer seems obvious. But is it really? How many of us favor hours of conversation over online connectivity?

In a recent survey of 2,700 business travelers from the Americas, Europe, and Asia Pacific, we found that only 54% choose to have no internet access. Travelers from the Americas are the least willing to engage with fellow passengers (41%), followed by Europeans (44%), whereas travelers from Asia Pacific score 50% for each scenario.

However, the regional results don’t reflect local realities. If we split the results per nationality, we get a really interesting ranking of ‘outgoing’ cultures. Ready to see if the results reflect any stereotypes you might have?

When it comes to a preference for chatting to fellow passengers, Chinese travelers rank first (67%), followed by Argentinians (61%), Mexicans (55%); Indians (52%), Belgians, Dutch, and Germans (51%); French (47%), Spanish and Canadians (43%), Swedish (38%), Brits (35%), US travelers (34%), Italians (33%), Brazilians (32%), Singaporeans (30%), Japanese (27%), and Australians (26%).

And what about the gender split? There’s an old and rather misogynist saying: “A woman’s tongue wags like a lamb’s tail.” It couldn’t be more wrong. Despite the fact that science has found that girls find it easier to acquire language than boys the reality is that – in every region we surveyed – women travelers were less inclined to sit next to a talkative stranger than men. Could it be due to our mental load? Do we view our travel time as an opportunity for a bit of peace and quiet?

The age split also threw up surprises. There is a general perception that young people prefer to communicate on social media than talk to each other face-to-face. However, our research shows that in every region millennials were most inclined to sit next to a chatty, unknown travel companion. And it seems that the older we get, the grumpier we become. Boomers ranked last after Gen X travelers.

So with that in mind, and regardless of your nationality, gender or age, I invite you to take the chance to have a good old chinwag with the person seated next to you on your next flight. You never know, it could help you land a deal, a job opportunity, or even meet the love of your life.

And if the conversation becomes insufferable, you can always get up and hide in the galley, pretend there is a project you need to work on, or claim air-sickness.

Blog author: Sandra Lastra, Global Corporate Communications Manager, CWT 

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CWT is a Business-to-Business-for-Employees (B2B4E) travel management platform. Companies and governments rely on us to keep their people connected – anywhere, anytime, anyhow – and across six continents, we provide their employees with innovative technology and an efficient, safe and secure travel experience. Every single day, we look after enough travelers to fill more than 100,000 hotel rooms, while our meetings and events division handles more than 100 events every 24 hours.