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Southwest Airlines Community

It Is Official--Wi-Fi Is On The Way!

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Hello everyone!  You probably saw the title of this blog post and thought, “haven't I heard that before?”  True, the road to onboard wi-fi has been a long one, but this week we took a major step that gets us closer to rolling out the system fleetwide.  We ended the equipment "testing" phase and signed an equipment purchase contract with our wi-fi provider, Row 44. That means we now begin the process of getting equipment ordered and aircraft scheduling in place to begin our full fleet installation.

We’ll begin installing the equipment in the second quarter of 2010.  We expect to install equipment on around 15 aircraft per month initially, with the goal of increasing that number to 25 aircraft a month as we ramp up the process.  With this schedule, we estimate that our full fleet of more than 540 planes will be outfitted with wi-fi service by early 2012.

So, on to the next pressing issue… what will it cost to connect?.  We don’t have an answer to that quite yet.  We’re still testing a variety of price points on the four aircraft that currently have wi-fi.  We’ll have a decision on price in the second quarter of 2010—rest assured that, just like our fares, it will be a great value. You can count on it!

We’re excited about this new inflight amenity and we promise it will be well worth the wait! We’ll have more updates along the way, but, in the meantime, keep booking those Southwest flights! Your chances of traveling on a wi-fi plane will increase soon!  (And don’t worry, we won’t tell your boss that you've been surfing the Internet.)  😉

457 Comments
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Keep the fares low & the bags free and I will pay for WiFi.
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One thing that would be nice is to know in advance of a flight if the plane will have wi-fi. Would be nice if that can be communicated as part of the flight information. Just a thought.
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Keep the fares low & the bags free, and I would be happy to pay a few bucks for WiFi.
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Soon, not just "Ding!" but also "Ping!" (Yeah, your marketing folks can use that for one free flight.) 🙂
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How about free?
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I was disappointed to find out that Southwest would be charging for this service. I've been anxiously awaiting wifi connectivity and think that you should just build it into your fares. One price covers everything is what Southwest is harping on with the whole "bags fly free" campaign...why not build on that brand with free Wifi? Consumers don't like to be "nickel and dimed". Just my 2 cents.
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How about using some "drink" tickets in exchange for Wi-Fi?
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you guys are sooooo awesome! thanks, Chris
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Get it done faster! :-) I hope you are figuring that most of the passengers will want it, and plan capacity accordingly! As for price point. Free would be a good one, but probably not in the cards! I hope you just have one price, one speed, etc. And not based on flight length or something like that. No matter, I'm sure it will be great. Just as the rest of SWA is hands down the best there is. It's the only carrier I will fly in the US.
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Awesome! Can't wait to be able to surf the web during flight! Bravo! Kerry Soileau
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Add a couple of dollars to the ticket price, and make the WiFi free! It's really quite tedious the way other airlines nickel-and-dime you: $25 per bag, $8 if you want TV, $10 if you want an in-flight movie, $6 is you want a snack, etc. Personally, I'm happy to pay a bit more and fly Southwest to not have to deal with all this nonsense.
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I don't presume to know what's best for Southwest, but I think you really should consider slightly increasing fares (on the order of, I'm guessing, a couple bucks) to make WiFi free for all. If WiFi isn't free, it becomes a novelty that I'm not interested in using onboard.
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Keep the fares low & and the bags free, and i will be glad to drop a few bucks for WiFi Randall
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We only fly southwest mostly to Burbank via Vegas.wifi would be nice but I really wish we could pick our seats when we buy our tickets.but your still the best.
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Perhaps free wi-fi for A-Listers...?
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Why not free or at least free to special members a list, southwest cc holders, business select??? Something for us frequent flyers because it just dose not make sense to pay money every flight!
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I'm excited for this! It can't come soon enough! I hope that you offer to the ability purchase optional Wi-Fi at the same time I purchase my Southwest ticket. One issue I had with the Wi-Fi (provided by Gogo Inflight Internet) on Virgin America is that I assumed it was free because I never saw bloggers/vloggers nor the VA website mention a cost. Then I get on the flight and find out it's $10. I feel that anything more than $10 would be a little excessive, so please take that in to consideration, Southwest. 🙂 Obviously, Business Select tickets should include Wi-Fi whether the passenger wants it or not.
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Please be free?
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We can't wait! {{wicked excited}}
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Thank you! I always fly SWA when I go from Portland, OR to Tampa, FL and this will DEFINITELY make those long 8hr flights more fun...
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Just one more reason to LOVE Southwest!
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As a frequent flier of both SWA and Virgin America, I would say that VA's variable wifi pricing - where the cost is relative to the length of the flight - is a great price structure.
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Southwest already ROCKS the airline industry! Why not rock just a wee bit more and let us have wi-fi access for free? I'm certain that the fact that you even HAVE wi-fi will sway the majority of the masochists who fly those "other" airlines, which should more than compensate for the cost of your investment! C'mon Southwest, don't make me pay for what should be free! I mean, besides the initial cost of equipment and installation, regular maintenance costs associated with having wi-fi should be pretty doggone low...once it's in, typically it just "works". Pretty please? 🙂 Your Loyal Fan, Doug Boude
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It'd be great if the price point was "Free for Business Select" passengers.
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It can't cost too much. I get wi-fi at my house for $20 a month. Some carriers charge $10-$15 for wi-fi for a few hours! Doesn't make sense. A couple bucks at most. Or free! 🙂
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I totally agree with Randall--- Affordable wi-fi is a small price to pay for low fares and free bag check-in!
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I think it's great that SWA is getting WiFi. Now, for Business Select passengers maybe they should get the option of getting either free WiFi or a drink coupon (though how they would be able to put that into the system I'm not really sure, maybe they could issue them a card that they would slide in). As on VA, SWA should give the employees free WiFi (they use a card to get into the system on VA). I'm not sure if it should be a flat rate for no matter how fare you fly or maybe tiered rates depending on distance, or a daily charge (you slide your card in again on a connecting flight and it recognizes you), or maybe you can purchase a card for WiFi access but the more time you purchase, in advance, the cheaper it gets. Just some thoughts.
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"How about using some "drink" tickets in exchange for Wi-Fi?" I concur with this. It would be great to be able to use the "drink" tickets since some of us don't actually drink that much.
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For those of us that travel frequently I recommend a monthly or yearly wifi fee to be used instead of a per use fee.
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I would prefer it be included in the ticket price. But, if you must charge separately, I would hope the price would be "per day" so that if I have to change planes, I wouldn't have to pay again.
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I agree with two people on here with the following points: * It should be free for business select passengers (no-brainer) * It should be available when booking flights, like Early Bird special.
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Why do I love Southwest.....low fairs, easy to navigate site, BAGS FLY FREE, friendly personal and now Wi-Fi. You're the best.
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I can't wait to be on flights with Wi-Fi. A reasonable price doesn't bother me at all, or a pay as you go plan like Boingo offers. I don't know why it should be free since it does require an investment by SWA. You stay in biz because you're wise about your decisions. I pay for Wi-Fi at motels if I have to because I'm not going to go without it. I appreciate the $2.99 rate Motel 6 charges instead of the $12 I've paid at a "higher class" place. I think SW will be more reasonable, towards the Motel 6 end of the spectrum. This is exciting news!!!
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As an almost-a lister who flys only via Southwest, this makes me happy! We (3 of us) fly Southwest anywhere from 1 to 4 roundtrips per month, with more coming this year. I'd be happy to pay a fee upfront for say monthly or annual access, but by paying upfront, I'd love to get some more points on my Rewards! Would save me from taking the time to enter my cc info each flight, and I could log in, say with my Rapid Rewards number! That would be really great--especially for those long cross country flights. Questions: 1. Will there be power outlets available on board? My laptop battery lasts only about 3 hours, and that flight from Portland to Philadelphia is a long one! 2. Will Rapid Rewards be available for wi-fi purchase? Always looking for more places to earn rewards. 3. I love the idea of the wi-fi coupons, but I always forget my drink coupons at home! Will probably do the same with wi-fi coupons. Can you email us codes if this is the way you're going to go? Another great service offered by the best US Airline! Thanks Southwest!
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First, hooray for the availability of wi-fi on the plane. I only ask a few things as a customer: 1) I know in advance whether or not my flight is going to have wi-fi. 2) That the Wi-Fi price is tied to the length of the flight. I would expect Wi-Fi on a flight from Phoenix to Vegas to cost less than Wi-Fi on a flight from Phoenix to Baltimore. I think building it into the ticket price is best. Paying $1.50-$3.00 each flight for WI-Fi I may or may not use wouldn't bother me.-- sometimes you are going to subsidize, sometimes you are going to be the one subsidized.) 3) Decent bandwidth speed... too high, it's going to encourage people to use bittorrents and the like. Too low... well I have no patience. 4) If you are going to limit where someone is going to surf, just spell it out and put it in the FAQ beforehand. 5) Please, please, please, please ban VOIP... otherwise you are going to have 25 people chatting on the plane at once (sorta like having Cell Phones in mid-air.) 6) Consistent quality of service (i.e. we don't pass through a dead spot and not have Wi-fi drop outs.
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I can understand the Wi-Fi not being free - it has a lot of costs associated with it, and many customers won't use it - but I do have one suggestion. How about offering a coupon code for a free Internet session as an option that people can instead of the drink coupon you get with every award on Rapid Rewards? I take medication that doesn't go well with alcohol, and I just drink pop or juice on planes. Wi-Fi for my iPhone, however, would be very nice on an evening flight when it's too dark to see much outside the window, and of about comparable value to the liquor option.
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Wonderful!!! The service that you've had on the currently installed aircraft is terrific! If you do charge, you might offer to use some element of using frequent-flyer credits to pay for service
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Maybe at least viewing the southwest airlines web site could be free in-flight ... which would be really helpful in checking flight connections and researching future trips ... A small fee could be charged to access any other site.
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I'm a college student, and I absolutely refuse to fly anything else but Southwest. Wi-Fi on flights is going to make me twice as stubborn to fly on any other carrier again! Really, for a student always swamped with homework, being able to work on the Internet on flights is a dream come true. Good job, Southwest. Keep up the amazing work!
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I think $5 is a reasonable price for a 3 hour flight....anything else is a rip-off considering there is free wifi at most airports and hotels.
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Bump the ticket price for EVERYONE by $1 and this WiFi stuff should pay for itself....right? Keep the change even after the stuff is paid for. Like someone else said, Burbank to Vegas....and only on SWA!!...sure it's only 55 minutes usually but it will be GREAT to surf with the new iPAD by then!!! SWEET!!
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I think if Southwest really wants to keep customers happy, they should offer WiFi for FREE otherwise, whats the point? They will just be like every other airline in one more way... If the competition is charging for WiFi then offering it free will help sway me to choose Southwest over someone else. I'd pay to check a bag before i'd pay for WiFi.
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Most of my SW flights are so short, I'm only allowed to use my "approved electronic device" for half an hour. I'm not likely to pay for WiFi for 30 minutes. However, I like that SW is incorporating this feature and continually thinking of ways to keep its loyal customers (like me) happy.
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Southwest already ROCKS the airline industry! Why not rock just a wee bit more and let us have wi-fi access for free? I'm certain that the fact that you even HAVE wi-fi will sway the majority of the masochists who fly those "other" airlines, which should more than compensate for the cost of your investment! C'mon Southwest, don't make me pay for what should be free! I mean, besides the initial cost of equipment and installation, regular maintenance costs associated with having wi-fi should be pretty doggone low...once it's in, typically it just "works". Pretty please? :) Your Loyal Fan, Doug Boude
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You should let RR members have the option of choosing free WiFi coupons/codes instead of free drink coupons when we earn free flights! Plus it would be much more cost effective for SWA 🐵
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Actually, I like my free bags, and I like my free wi-fi, but I understand the need to charge more for more services and don't want to pay more for tickets. There is a definite cost to checking bags, I would like to choose, bags or wifi, and pay more when I need both. When I fit everything into a carry on, I should be rewarded with another feature that I may not even use for saving the company money.
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Southwest is not like other airlines. They've always done what others have not been able to do....stay small, give good fares, they keep adding more routes all the time while others are scaling back......and now this, WiFi. I did a little research on Row 44, Ku band, and this In Flight Entertainment market before I decided to respond to this, which is the first time I've ever posted something on a public board such as this (most of the time because I really don't care one way or the other). Really fasciating stuff by the way (www.row44.com). The Row 44 supplier that will be selling this sytem and putting them on the airplanes is not just like other choices. Depending on what they have agreed upon with Row 44, we could all see Internet/email, LiveTV, Mobile Phone/VoiP service, and even Airline Ops on each plane. The other offerings out there give one or the other....not all. I sure hope that's what we're getting because I fly Southwest exclusivey and can't wait for this to get on their planes. Thanks for getting all of this together for your passengers Southwest!! We love i!! LA
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Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!
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Clearly everyone asking for SWA to simply "build" WiFi into the ticket price is going to use it. They want to be subsidized by the other people on the plane to use WiFi cheaper. There is a difference between bags and WiFi, people need bags to travel, whereas no one "needs" WiFi. Making it free and raising everyone's ticket prices is akin to raising the ticket prices to make beer free. I am sure the people who don't drink wouldn't like that, and the people who have no interest in WiFi on the plane don't want their ticket prices to rise so you can use the Internet cheaper.
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1. Charge a minimal amount ($1 to $2) so that people don't swamp your system just because it's there and it's free. 2. Can you put power plugs in the seat arms; I'm not the only with limited battery life! 3. I like the drink coupon suggestions -- I rarely drink when flying because when I land I have to drive in an unknown city. 4. Thumbs up to you for doing it!