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Inflight Wi-Fi Update

Employee
Employee

On June 24, Southwest will begin a new testing phase for Inflight Wi-Fi on the four aircraft that are currently equipped with wi-fi technology.  In order to match the price of our product with what the market is willing to pay, we will be testing a variety of price points. The connection cost will range from $2 to $12 and will be determined by the distance Customers are traveling and the device they are using to connect.  The cost to get online will be displayed when a Customer launches his or her Internet browser and will be applicable to Employees as well as Customers.

 

Let us know what you think. 

51 Comments
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How about just having a flat fee for mobile devices and a flat fee for computers? Say $3 and $6?
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Will the fee be per segment or per trip? I am curious whether a Customer on a direct flight will be required to pay twice.
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For people who fly a lot - can we pay a flat rate for a year's worth of internet?
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I don't really even care about the price - I just want it up there and on all the planes, so I know that I'll have it when I fly! This feels like the slowest roll-out ever.
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Wifi is a great idea -- I, for one, would pay for it. However, please don't let it lead to allowing cell phones -- talk about air rage!
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I hoped that AT&t would provide the service
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Why would you charge employees? And, $12 is too much for ANY domestic flight. Should be a single rate, flat fee. All that being said, this is exciting! Go Southwest!
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Doesn't that seem a bit complicated for Southwest Airlines? Not to mention when you see the dude or kid sitting in the seat next to you gets a lower rate because of their device, there will be chaos.
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I would love having the choice to connect to wi-fi on Southwest Airlines. The price point around $10 would be fine on longer flights. Make sure it works with connecting flights. In most cases, travelers would be reimbursed by their businesses. Great. Roll with it, you will not get very much price resistance.
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I guess first it would nice to be able to understand why there is a cost and how good the service will be/how many connections it can handle before getting slow. I think it's a great idea but then how will that affect cell phones being on which we are now told have to be off as it affects the aircraft nav systems, etc ... Whatever you do it has to be simple ---
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What are the flights that this will be on July 9th and July 17th? (We are flying out and back from San Diego)
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I second Richard's vote for differing price points dependent on device. I'd hate to pay the same fee on my Blackberry as one might on a laptop.
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Follow the Apple App Store - if you price any length of trip at $12, you will remove a large number of impulse purchases. If you keep it to $2-3 no matter what, you'll get a huge number of people to pay for it for any device. I personally won't pay $12 for any length of flight (well, maybe international, but Southwest doesn't have those), considering hotel wifi and many other hotspot wifi locations are typically at around $10-$15 per *DAY* for a laptop or whatever kind of device you may have. So, for a 3-5hr flight, I think $12 would destroy impulse buy market and only suck in a few business people. Just like the inflight phone calls that nobody uses. If it's too much money, it's worse than nothing at all. In fact, I'd make the argument that in the long run, making it free would actually cause more people to fly Southwest simply because of the wifi availability, which would most likely yield much more money than the $2-$12 wifi tax.
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If you take the intersection of A-list status passengers and Companion Pass owners, you will have the list of your most frequent flyers, people who will value this service the most, and feel like they are funding it with their frequent travel. Sounds like an opportunity to reward your best customers!
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Might it make more sense to absorb the cost of providing wi-fi service in with the cost of the fare thus offering free wi-fi to all passengers? Imho this is definitely a must for Business Select passengers (given the cost of the ticket) at a minimum. This would also offer SWA an opportunity to further differentiate themselves from other airlines and capitalize on market share similar to the "Fees don't fly with us" campaign. Another option you may want to consider is providing options for a monthly or annual wi-fi access key in addition to a per-flight rate if the cost of including the service with the cost of the fare would drive the price point higher than you want to take it while keeping margins.
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Couple ideas ..... per segment, like you mentioned is a great option. PHX-SAN, $2.00 done. Easy. per day, say $10.00 then flight changes, short round trips, connections etc. it all works. per week. say $15.00 for those flying a lot, once (if ???) this goes system wide I can see a large market for this. monthly rate??? "Coupons" ?? Maybe biz fares get comp connections?
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It's a great idea!!! Definitely love the idea of monthly/annual access. Another great idea is adding it to your gates. Some airports have wifi, but it's a fortune! So, add wifi to the gate and the plane so that they can use it in both places. 😄 $12 is a bit expensive though. Maybe look more towards $3. I LOVE SOUTHWEST AIRLINES!!!!! (I even love your stock!)
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Come ON! I love Southwest, but stop with the add-on fees already. Wi-fi is becoming more and more a required utility -- you know, kinda like lights -- so please just wrap the charge into the cost of the ticket. I realize not everyone will use it, but not everyone consumes a free drink or those yummy peanuts either. Think of the competitive advantage if you were the first to offer FREE wi-fi on all flights! (And yes, I think hotels and airports ought to do the same thing, so I'm not just lookin' at you.) Thanks for reading.
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Personally I feel that $12 is too much for any length of flight. The price would have to be more competitive to encourage me to pull out my laptop and use it rather than wait to get to wherever I was going, or rather than pay approx. $7 to connect at the airport beforehand. In addition, I do not agree that the cost of wifi should be built into the cost of the flight unless the increase is nominal. As great as free wifi would be, I am perfectly willing to wait the duration of my flight to use the internet, and it is more important to me that the price of the fare remain as low as possible. I'm sure business travelers wouldn't mind a built in wifi cost since they are more likely to use it and are reimbursed by their companies, but not all vacation and leisure travelers are willing to pay an increase in fare in order to satisfy the business class (unless, as I mentioned before, the increase is nominal).
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Who care how much the guy next to me is paying. People pay business class for a boarding(400bucks) and i paid 70 bucks ding to get to LA and got A boarding 2 times. WHo would feed dumb?
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What would be ideal for people who are traveling long distances, and probably were at the first airport for over an hour and then got on a flight and then possibly have a long lay over before another flight, would be to coordinate the providers in the airports (often T-Mobile) and on the plane so that people who are traveling all day can pay for access all day. My previous suggestion aside, It might be nice to give people the option to connect for half an hour, an hour, or the full flight. If I'm using my laptop I'll probably want to connect for the full flight, but if I'm on my phone I'll probably just check my e-mail, maybe send 1 or 2 replies and be done with it. I would also agree with the people above who have said that it would be nice if the wifi was included in the price of the Business class tickets (which I never get nowadays...) or for premium frequent flyers (which I probably don't qualify for nowadays! either, dang!). I think increasing your fare and offering this free to your passengers would be a bad policy because so many families travel on SW and they don't want to pay so that their kids, who don't have lap tops and internet-capable cell phones, could potentially use the wifi, etc. I think it's reasonable to ask people to pay for wifi if they want to use it - as long as you don't start charging for peanuts, soda, blankets, pillows, and checked luggage! 😄
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So does that mean you'll have to change your marketing strategy from "No Fees" to "Only Some Fees But Still Not For Luggage and Snacks"? But don't read that wrong, I love Southwest.
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Looking forward to when WiFi is offered fleet-wide. I'm sure SWA is looking for the simplest way to price this. I would think doing a per day charge would be the fairest way, say $7.95 per day. I think a per day charge would be a good option for those folks who need to change plans or are on single-plane direct flights across the country and need to log on and off for landing/takeoff. It would also be a good value for those flying to and from a location in one day, i.e. Islip to Midway in the morning and Midway to Islip in the evening. In addition, perhaps you could offer a multi-use discount, which could be purchased at time of use or prior to a trip and provide a discount for Rapid Rewards members. Thanks for providing an opportunity for feedback.
New Arrival
This is a fantastic idea! However $12 is way too high to motivate me to use it, however I'd be willing to pay if it was under $10. An even better idea is John Miller's suggestion of distributing the cost among all the travelers.. I think $1-3/person is reasonable enough that SWA still makes some money, while passengers who may not use the feature are still willing to absorb the nominal cost. And the rest of us users will feel the LUV!! The other alternatives might be to : - Use the flat fee, and allow travelers to pre-pay at a discounted rate for a wireless key (or discount attached to the Rapid Rewards #) during the airline ticket purchase... or pay the regular rate on the plane. - Offer an hourly rate around $2-$3/ hour. This will address the fact that computer use ranges between 1-3 hours after you factor in the time frame when electronic devices can actually be used. However, I think the win-win is for SWA to distribute the cost among all the travelers, so that the company is guarenteed to make a few bucks, and travelers have an added convenience to the traveling experience (which is bad enough between TSA & all the limitations!!!) Also, will electrical outlets be available? p.s. I second Lisa Lisa's comment on NO CELLPHONES!! Please!! Private computer use w/ earbuds is absolutely fine, but I don't want to hear my neighbor on the phone flapping his about how he's on the airplane and hasn't landed yet, blablabla.
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I would pay $3 for internet access. I would also like to suggest free wifi in the terminal as well
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I love the idea of coupons! Rapid Reward members and Business Select passengers should get free coupons to wi-fi access on the planes just like how you give out free drink coupons. I think a $3 fee would be fair for a flight 1 hour or less. 1-2 hours: $5 2-3 hours: $7 3+ hours: $9 Handheld devices like an iphone or blackberry should be $1 less.
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This is a fantastic idea! However $12 is way too high to motivate me to use it, however I'd be willing to pay if it was under $10. An even better idea is John Miller's suggestion of distributing the cost among all the travelers.. I think $1-3/person is reasonable enough that SWA still makes some money, while passengers who may not use the feature are still willing to absorb the nominal cost. And the rest of us users will feel the LUV!! The other alternatives might be to : - Use the flat fee, and allow travelers to pre-pay at a discounted rate for a wireless key (or discount attached to the Rapid Rewards #) during the airline ticket purchase... or pay the regular rate on the plane. - Offer an hourly rate around $2-$3/ hour. This will address the fact that computer use ranges between 1-3 hours after you factor in the time frame when electronic devices can actually be used. However, I think the win-win is for SWA to distribute the cost among all the travelers, so that the company is guarenteed to make a few bucks, and travelers have an added convenience to the traveling experience (which is bad enough between TSA & all the limitations!!!) Also, will electrical outlets be available? p.s. I second Lisa Lisa's comment on NO CELLPHONES!! Please!! Private computer use w/ earbuds is absolutely fine, but I don't want to hear my neighbor on the phone flapping his about how he's on the airplane and hasn't landed yet, blablabla.
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To consider: Business Select:: Free Regular pax: Any flights 3 hrs or more $12 otherwise it is $6 Rapid Rewards members $8 Year membership available for regular travelers $49.99 Employees: Free
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seems somewhat complicated and sounds like it might be a little expensive. It would be good to have an account system for frequent flyers. Maybe a monthly membership like boingo does or something like that.
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I agree with a few items from various posts. 1. Fee structure based on the day OR the length of the flight. Give passengers options, but don't make it so complicated. Please keep it simple like you do everything else on SWA. I love you for that! 2. SWABiz travelers should absolutely have it at a reduced cost, if not free when purchasing those flights. The price difference is pretty big most of the time. 3. Think about the coupons. Once you have it installed, I'd bet the return on it will happen pretty quickly. Biz travelers want to be productive 24/7 if they can. You'll gain far more biz customers I think. Keep up the great philosophy Southwest. In the past I wasn't a fan, but you've won me over and I love flying your airline. The only criticism I have is that you don't offer a few food options for long hauls. Have at least wi-fi on your longer flights would be fantastic. - S McVey
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I hope SW keeps the cost only to those who want it. Don't raise fares....let the ones who want to use wi-fi pay and the ones who just want to sleep and relax not have to pony up any money~
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WN should not charge employees, they shouldnt' even make internet available to employees! I seriously hope that WN makes it an immediately terminatable offense for an on-duty employee to use any Wireless device in any way. Sadly if internet access is available to employees, once it becomes installed on more than 4 planes, I can picture flight attendants instant messaging their freinds on the ground rather than doing their jobs. Also I fear that pilots with the plane on autopilot might be tempted to get out a mini laptop or wifi cell phone on a long flight. I can think of a couple steps to prevent this. If the sign on page asks for a name/PNR # (and verifies it from a list), that will prevent an on duty person from signing on unless of course they have access to the manifest. The credit card authorization page could deny employee addresse matches if they are on duty.
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How about this: $8 for 24 hours of WiFi tired to that MAC address? Southwest does not have power ports in their aircraft. My Mac laptop lasts about 3-4 hours on a charge (w/ WiFi on), and for a flight I wouldn't want to bring spare batteries. I would hate to have to pay $12 for Laptop WiFi and only use 3 hours of it because my laptop battery died. A lot of older laptops generally have older batteries and I am sure not everyone is traveling with their most expensive computer. Just a thought.
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For us A-listers...pay per flight would be expensive...I'd be less inclined to use it. I agree with others who have asked for a flat fee per month or at least something seriously discounted for those of us who fly SWA ALOT every week. I'd say we'd do it like the mobile folks do where there is a per day charge, per month, and per year.
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I find value in pricing differences for a one hour flight vs a five hour flight I suppose. But adding a price difference per type of equipment that I could use does nothing for me other than confuse and "nickel & dime" the experience. I would rethink this strategy and come up with something a little simpler. Additionally, I think the pricing of up to $12 is much to high. Even on a five hour flight, I would be hesitant to buy it. I would suggest a max of $8. In regards to previous comments from others, I agree with adding free WiFi to Business Select customers and adding WiFi coupons in your frequent flyer program. Thanks for experimenting and looking for the best value and program offerings. As always, I am happy that you look for comments from your customers.
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I'd recommend that you make wifi free for customers who purchase business tickets and keep it close to the 5 dollar range for everyone else. I think 10-12 is higher than most impulse buyers will want to spend for wifi on their flight. Also, you could start advertising it as an add on for customers to purchase when they buy their tickets (once it becomes available on ALL fights) and then you could use the confirmation codes from customers who pre-buy wireless (or some other code) as their method of "payment input" when they go to connect on their flight. If you're advertising it pre-flight you will increase wifi awareness and encourage even more people to bring their laptops with them and use this new service.
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you pride yourself on not having any add-on fees like other airlines. and you make a national advertising campaign out of that fact. make it free and stay true to your promise to your loyal customers to not have add-on fees!
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Is the fee per-device or per-person? My concern is I connect with my laptop, and the battery dies, so I switch to my iPhone. Do I need to pay again? I'm really looking forward to this service!
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I think Business Select customers should get free internet access reguardless of length of the flight. You people know the price of internet access. If you don't like the price, dont buy it. How hard is that? If people use it, don't expect Southwest to lower the price. If no one uses it, then the price will probably come down. Supply and demand!
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First off yay to Southwest for getting going on this. I think the market is ripe for this and I think airlines that offer Wi-Fi will do well. I think one of the most frustrating things for fliers now knows which planes have WiFi and which don't. I know planes change hourly (if not more) sometimes and it is hard to know which will be flying which routes. What company is Southwest using? Go-Go? David http://www.theairlineblog.com
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Can you offer discounts for buying it in advance when you purchase a ticket? Or maybe some sort of bulk purchase discount? I'm very interested, but don't want it to be too expensive, which I think most of the hot spots from T-Mobile really are.
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I disagree about the suggestions for Business Select customers. There are MANY students/grad students who fly on SWA because of the great prices, but cannot afford Business Select tickets. It would be a pity to have a system of tiered wifi features that are based on the type of ticket you have. Students and travelers who fit into the the "Millennial Generation" use the internet equally (if not more than) Business Select customers, and the offer of wifi would be an attractive draw for student travelers. Not all of us have employers footing the bill on our airline tickets, so I don't like the idea of making wifi rates determinative on the type of ticket one purchases. Whether it's Fortune.com, Facebook or a financial report (or all three! lol), travelers/users should pay the same rate. Or perhaps SWA should just distribute a nominal cost for all travelers, and the feature can be used as desired (similar to food & beverages).
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Business Select and A-List Customers should get WiFi as a perk (i.e. free). You might also offer it free when someone earns a Rapid Rewards award - as you do with the drink tickets. Other Customers should get WiFi for a minimal charge - I'd be disinclined to pay more than $5 unless I were going to be traveling all day - and this should be per trip. If the Customer signs in with their PNR, it should be possible to know whether that Customer has already paid on a flight earlier that day and not charge them again (and if you also verify that the Customer is signing in aboard a flight that matches their PNR, then it's harder to cheat - not that we know anyone who would). Yes, the revenue helps, but this is Southwest. And WiFi is free at Motel 6, the public library, etc.
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I don't understand why other airlines (e.g. DL) charge one fee for smartphones and one fee for laptops. Also, I wish GoGo and other WiFi providers would offer a once a year fee for us road (air) warriors so we don't get nickeled and dimed to death. For WN air warriors, how about that once a year payment option?
New Arrival
anything more than a couple bucks would be prohibitive. I agree with the posters that say you should just wrap it in the price of the ticket. if you must charge, then offer it free for the business folks....and as a bennie for being a rapid reward member. bottom line... don't start down the add-ons path the other airlines have been doing. Thanks for moving forward with this...
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Hey guys - I love all the thought you all are putting into this, and your ideas for different ways we could offer inflight Wi-Fi are very helpful as we evolve our inflight experience! Additionally, each of your suggestions are future product considerations that we will continue to evaluate. For this test, however, we'll just be charging per leg of your wi-fi flight (so yes Drew, Customers on direct flights will have to pay the applicable price for each segment). We definitely hear your concerns regarding the lack of convenience in charging per leg, but rest assured that this test is just the first step in determining how we might offer an inflight Wi-Fi product.
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SW Traveler Please, NO CELL PHONES. Many travelers are weary and like to sleep on the plane. I don't want to hear people on cell phones and I don't want to hear the sound on someone's computer. How do I carry on a normal conversation with my traveling companion when people are gabbing (and, let's face it, they are ALWAYS talking as if everyone is deaf) on their phones? It is just as bad with undisciplined children. Considering how packed in people are on planes as it is, I will NOT be responsible when I accidentally bump someone either reaching down for something or getting up to go to the restroom, or when the plane is flying through some bad air, and I inadvertently knock their computer. Will the airline tell people to stop all use of their electronic stuff if there is turbulence? Computers generate a lot of heat, so that will not be good for us flyers who are packed in to a small space. Further, why should I have to pay for YOUR computer use if the the fee gets bundled into the airfare? There are actually some of us who do not feel they have to be reachable and connected 24/7, and there are tons of us who don't carry a computer when we travel or even have a cell phone. (When you get to be on a small fixed income, you will come to appreciate what budgeting is really all about.) There are a ton of retirees out there living on fixed incomes, who are not in the working world where you can't live without a computer or cell phone for a couple of hours. Really. What did you do before computers and cell phones, or perhaps you have never had a life where that existed.
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One thing to consider is the cost of the technology. One of their satellite antennas alone costs nearly $1000000.
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$12 is a rip off SW. GoGo charges $9.95 max for 3 hours or more. Flights under 3 hours at $4.95 I believe. Why not copy there model? Also, I agree that $49.95 or $99.95 is a great idea for a yearly fee and all Rapid Rewards members should have a discount/free wifi.
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Ryan, as far as I know, nothing has been decided on permanently. This is just a pricing test.