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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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Suggestion on the pricing: this would be a real value ... How about a dollar per hour??
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This should be no news to you, but do as retailers do with credit card charges. Determine the annual cost of the program including profit margin, then spread the total over all tickets sold. It's just what you are now doing with baggage that is flying "free". KISS always works best.
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The Center for Media Research has released a study by Vertical Response that shows just where many of these ‘Main Street’ players are going with their online dollars. The big winners: e-mail and social media. With only 3.8% of small business folks NOT planning on using e-mail marketing and with social media carrying the perception of being free (which they so rudely discover it is far from free) this should make some in the banner and search crowd a little wary. www.onlineuniversalwork.com
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Wi-Fi is great for those who use it. I hope the fares are not raised just to have Wi-Fi included/free. Wi-Fi should be an option for those who need it. I fly Southwest because I LUV the airline and the great service I get on every flight. Airfares low - bags free - Wi-Fi option!
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I agree with that I've read from others. The WiFi system should be incorporated into the normal full fare fee schedule. Loyal customers of Southwest stick with the airline because it doesn't nickel and dime its customers.
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The frequency of the use of the words "Bags fly free" leaves me a bit cold, i.e., the more you use it the more attention everybody gives it which makes me think that someday SWA will charge for baggage. Keep the flight costs down and just leave the baggage flies free stuff quiet. People already love SWA because your prices and value are great. The more amenities you add, the higher your costs have to become. Keep it simple. A great airline. I fly with you a minimum of 16 flights per year. I worry when all the goodies are added. Fly us cheap and with a Diet Coke and some peanuts is great ! The crew attitude and quality of flight is a winner. Did you ever hear the expression " if it ain't broke, don't fix it"" ! It's already a winner.
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Wait - you are going to charge for this??? You can take your wi-fi and shove it up ......well you know....
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SW is a great company. You are one of the few that truly listen to the voice of the customer (VOC). Keep up the great work and the value service you provide. How about a frequent travel WIFI time reward that is based on points earned?
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How about free for Business Select and A-listers, $10 for everyone else.
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Offer a monthly price as well as a single flight price. For us that are loyal and take SW as much as we can it would be nice! I hope to gain my AList shortly, so maybe for AList'ers it is free all the time!! I do believe though even though I dont see it likely, if you carried on with Wifi free on SW even for a short time, you would have a huge swing of more flyers. Bags and Wifi free, what more could you want??
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I agree with the person who suggested eing able to use the free drink cards for internet!
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I'm begging you: add a buck to my ticket then make it free for everyone. Think of how useful this is to your customers, especially when there are delays. Last week I had to take my three young children to the airport at bedtime to pick up my wife from a Southwest flight that was delayed 2 hours. We live 30 minutes away from the airport and everything said "on time" online for her one hour flight. Would have been nice if she could have sent me a note when they were finally the air (after deicing, waiting in line on the runway) to say when they'd actually be landing. She had no chance to call, she had to turn off her phone when they shut the doors. Many airports are going free on WiFi, and I suspect it's for the same reason: airline travel is fraught with waiting around and delays. Please give us a way to stay connected with families and pass the time. Free Wi-fi is a pre-emptive attack on complaints. I fly a dozen trips a year on SWA, and would be willing to pay a reasonable surcharge per ticket the year to have free Wi-fi on all my flights. We all have wireless at home and know the minimal effort it takes to plug this in -- it doesn't cost that much to add on, but the benefits to all are worth it. Yet another way SWA can make the competition scurry for cover. Bags Fly Free, Wi-Fi Free
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Wi-Fi should definitely be free - it fits more with the Southwest image. If nothing else, free for Business Select and/or A-Listers. On that same note, why in the world would I pay for Wi-Fi on a flight from Philadelphia to San Diego when the battery in my laptop is only going to take me to St. Louis (if I'm lucky!)? If you're going to charge for the Wi-Fi, you best be adding electrical outlets to your planes as well. In fact, you should just do that anyway!!!!! I can't tell you how many times I've been RIGHT in the middle of something and BAM! Laptop dead, my mind explodes. Its not fun.
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This is great news. I don't mind paying a little extra but it would be nice to be able to have an option when booking the flight to pre-pay and have your access code before boarding.
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Instead of having it be a separate charge that I need to handle during the flight, why don't you just add $2 of $5 to each ticket on any plane with wi-fi access and that should pay for it. That way, it will be mixed in the ticket price and not need to be something that I need to turn in separately for reimbursement when I travel. Love the wi-fi idea and thank you for pursuing it. That's why I love flying Southwest.
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A plane hold's 180 people...add $1/$2 per ticket and that's $180/$360 in revenue. If WiFi was $10, that's 18-36 folks. Judging from the number of peopel carrying laptops on board, I doubt you'll exceed those numbers on most flights (especially short flights). So a minor $1/$2 fare hike (not even noticable) would likely generate excess revenue and allow Southwest to offer "free WiFi" which would be one heck of a marketing tool..
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Yea! Wifi for those who need it is great. Here are a few of my ideas which are similar to others: 1. Let some have a monthly or yearly subscription for a flat fee. 2. Also, Have it available to people for a single flight. 3. Let people with drink coupons use those to buy internet. (one, two or three coupons depending on length of flight). 4. Do not make it free and increase the ticket prices, that would be unfair to those who do not care to use internet. It also would make SWA less competitive with other airlines. Keep your fares as low as possible, and earn extra profits for WIFI sales.
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Please let us use "drink" tickets in exchange for Wi-Fi! I have tons of these coupons and and would love to use them for Wi-Fi.
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I am game for a monthy fee option for us frequent travelers. Maybe even a tiered plan, $5 per month for 4 access instances , $10 for 8 access instances etc...an instance being a 24hr period. I am feeling the "love" 🙂
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having wifi on SW flights is exciting! However, I certainly hope that if wifi is available that Southwest ENFORCES some rules for its use. In particular I am talking about the use of headphones for websites with sound and that any site with adult content is blocked. I was appalled on a flight a few years back on an American flight when two men watched a violent dvd on full volume and were not made to use headphones. The attendants kept giving the men dirty looks but said nothing, not even during the scene when a woman was about to be raped and screaming at the top of her lungs. There were children nearby by and I finally had to say something to one of the attendants to get the situation taken care of. The cabin is a small confined space and no one should be forced to put up with such inappropriate behavior.
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I believe to make it easy for both SW and their customers, SW should just have the wi-fi open, and simply add (for ease of #'s) say $1.00 to every ticket, it would more then cover the cost of the wi-fi in the end. Think about it, that could be about $130.00 for one (1) fully booked plane, one way. If that plane makes 4 fully-booked runs that day, they would make about $520 for one airplane for one day. When you consider the fact that "maybe" 1/3 of the people on each plane would actually use it, I think it just makes the whole thing simpler for everyone involved...... 🙂 P.S. I love Southwest!!! You all have been so wonderful on every flight I have taken!!! Your attendents are so sweet, funny and caring! Keep up the good work!
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If you charge for it...they will not come.
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Tie a wi-fi account to ones Rapid Reward #. Fix your price per flight and allow a discount for RR members and permit us to buy a bank of days. Frankly, I'd rather buy a "for today’s travel" access arrangement (that’s why I'd tie it to account). Then you permit free access to southwest.com on the flight (for all). With RR # you log on and if account has value - you're in. If not then you buy as you go. You can even deposit a free wi-fi "day" for every X # of segments flown. For other flyers not in the program it's a fee/segment arrangement clean and easy. You already have all the payment logistics set up - it's just adding the wi-fi as an option. THEN eventually as roll out begins we can pre-pay and know (realizing equipment changes might occur) if the flights we are traveling have access or not. Really helps with planning. For folks traveling on business a couple of bucks is no big deal. I'll wager the economics work to simply raise prices at point in 2010 when the fleet is fully operational and declare it "Free" then, meantime let those of us who want to use it buy it as we desire, instead of taxing all for the benefit of a few.
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I agree with those who would not like to be nicked and dimed like the other airlines. Southwest has such appeal for including everything in the ticket price. Please do not add extra for this service and you will not regret it as your sales will just increase anyway.
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I am looking forward to having it available, many times I have needed the service. however I don't see any value to paying for the service on short flights (about 1 hour) but I would pay durring longer trips.right now you charge $10 for non A List passengers to move up for boarding. If you decide to charge for the service then add it to the ticket purchase process.
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If you must charge for WI-FI to stay profitable, modify the booking process to make it optional. Not all costomers may want WI-FI access. Just a thought.
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I am wondering how charging for WiFi is going to work. I would think it would cause more problems for SWA that it is worth. For example, is SWA going to be responsible for slow connectivity, especially on those short flights? Will it be worthwhile for the passenger on a short flight, since I imagine there will be that period upon taking off and landing that WiFi won't be available...you know, the time when "all electronic devices must be in the off position"? What about customers who are traveling more than one leg to reach their destination. Will they have to pay for each leg? Will they have to continually disconnect/connect for the multiple take-offs and landings? These are where the problems come in for SWA. It seems charging will just lead to complaints whether justified, or unjustified. On the other hand, it is not as common for people to complain about something that is free. If you are going to charge, I suggest charging separately and not including it in the ticket price. My usual destination is a short 40 minute flight (including take off and landing) and I doubt I will take the time to boot up for 15 minutes of internet use.
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I'd like to see where we could use our drink coupons for wifi and also a reduced rate for "A" List flyers. There may be times where I may use a coupon for a drink or some internet. Thanks!
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Can we have the option of free drink coupons or free wifi? I don't drink but I surf!
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$5.88 is a fair price round trip! Why $5.88 you ask? Because it spells L-U-V (588 on your phone). I luv it? I would pay that price round trip for WIFi hands down or is that thumbs and fingers up ?! lol. Southwest is my favorite airline! I use SW each and everytime I fly and thats alot for this non-business traveler!
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If not free, let me exchange some drink coupons for it. That way I could use some that I just won't use on a morning flight 🙂
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It's a great idea, but it would be much easier to be able to include the cost at the same time the ticket is purchased online, instead of making a seperate purchase at the airport or onboard, for some of us anyway. Just an idea.
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I love the idea of wi-fi!!!. I agree with the other posts that say, "keep the tickets low and the snacks and bags fly free and I'll pay a little for wi-fi!!! Thanks Southwest! You're the best!
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I believe we are in a day and age that people should not be paying for wifi service. It should be viewed as providing a competitive edge rather than charging people. I see it no different than offering snacks and bevereages. Other airlines seem to stiff the customer any time they can. Similar to your free bag campaign. A matter of fact I would think wifi is actually cheaper than piling bags into a plane. I refuse to pay for any public access wifi unless it is an extreme emergency as I think it pickpocketing to do so. Oh we offer wifi but we are going to charge you $10-15 an hour to connect. If you are going to charge me for that don't make it sound like you are doing me any favors.
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Yes, we WANT that on-board WIFI !!! Thank you Southwest for maintain a leading edge business model that allows to hire and retain the best, most motivated employees and to so effectively and continuously deploy innovation as your most potent competitive weapon!
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Come On Southwest! Don't lose what you've built. "Different" You're no different from the others once the nickel and diming starts up. Here are my thoughts... Free WiFi similar to Free flights after so many flights and definitely for those that are on the A list and/or purchase Business Class Fare.
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I don't want my airfares increased to cover wifi when I will never use it. If you want to use it you should be charged. We are not all addicted to the internet and don't see a need to have it on the flights. If that is your thing more power to you but we shouldn't all pay because you want to play.
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I would rather have free movies or even a little more leg room would be nicer then wifi. Yes many people want it but it is not a needed item. Just another nusiance like cell phones. It discuesses me when landing almost everyone grabs their cell phone. Cant you wait the three minutes untill you see them at the luggage area. I have even seen people call others sittimg four rows behing them. Come on! NOT NEEDED. There is nothing you need to do on flight on wifi that could not have been done earlier.. Face it NO DO NOT ADD IT INTO EVERYONES TICKET CHARGE THOSE THAT WANT IT DEARLY> Lets see Provider payments extra weight for the installed equipment, Also make a no carry on policy it would be appreciated.
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Yes I like everyone else wants something for nothing. But there is no such thing. I have several ideas that could help cut cost further./ Take all chairs out and put us in like cattle in a truck. No bagge allowed in the cabin. Come on look at what the profits would do. Charge less because of no dead weight........ Now lets get serious. To add anything to a flight requires several items. First is weight of the equipment. Second is the provider fee. Third is the management portion. Fourth is the time on flight by attendents to help confused people connect. More equipment requires more fuel...MONEY Provider costs MONEY management cost MONEY etc... I would like to see no additional fee on a ticket. User pay for options. No one gets it free including a list In fact to lower cost for all issue no more free miles. Drop everyone prices instead. Charge people ticket per pound of weight total .. Add baggage weight and personal weight says 1.00 per pound I weight 230 + 55 lbs of baggage = 285 * 1.00 ticket = 285 dollars. Is not this easy. no so called first class area or business. Open seating up and `give all seats a little more room. No movies no snacks. Every one should be able to sit down for 2-4 hours with out these items. Did not need them 30 years ago why now?
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Please remind people to bring headphones! There's nothing worse than listening to someone else's movie or music. Even without WIFI, there are inconsiderate people who let their kids listen without headphones. Love the idea of WIFI inflight.
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Increasing the fares to make up for wi fi is ridiculous. If wi fi is the product one wants to have, then buy it. Why should everyone have to absorb that increase for a select group? There are plenty of people who do not use wi fi oand those that do, but choose to read a book, relax and just be "disconnected" for a while. Same as when most of the airlines had movies. If you wanted to watch you paid, if not you didn't. It's not nickel & diming as some say. It's simply paying for what you ask for. Having luggage is a necessity of travel...having wi fi is not.
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I am pretty disappointed that you guys are even considering charing for Wi Fi. I have been very loyal to SWA for over 10 years, however I just recently flew (for the first time) from LAX to Rochester on TRANS AIR during Christmas. (Their fare was lower than SWA by a lot, that is why I flew them.) TRANS AIR OFFERS FREE WI FI AND FREE SIRUS RADIO TO ALL CUSTOMERS. YOU SHOULD RECONSIDER CHARGING FOR WI FI.
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I am a frequent, loyal SWA flyer and would like to see FREE wi-fi for loyal Rapid Reward customers who take a certain number of round-trips per year!
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I have grown up with parents in the airline industry. The airline service for this particular airline had declined dramatically after the company decided to destroy the retirement of their employees and i have not flown them since (and it would be free for me). I prefer the service and value i receive from SWA. I love your company, competition, and most importantly, your wonderful, happy, often hilarious staff. Thank you for being an airline industry innovator. Looking forward to Flying and WIFI-ing. Hopefully you will add Newark to the list of airports and i will be complete.
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Since the wife and I do not take computers aboard airliners anymore, we'd rather not have to pay a higher ticket price simply to accommodate those passengers who do seem to have an unnatural attachment for machinery in flight. I'm sure Southwest will do what it thinks is necessary to maintain fiscal viability. So will we.
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Remember when companies offered incentives to bring more customers to their business. How about along with Bags fly Free you offer Wi-Fi Free...Beat and shame the other airlines before they all find a way to make another dollar off of us travelers.
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At first I was a little taken back to find out that Wi Fi would be an additional charge. But then as I thought about it, maybe this should be included at no additional charge for those of us that fly Business Select. If you choose not to fly Business Select, you can purchase the internet at an additional charge. Trading drink coupons, come on... I would like to have a drink and relax while doing my work. Not sure if this has been mentioned since there are alot of ideas listed above but here it is. SASSR
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Used the Southwest WiFi on one of the first 4 planes with service. Service worked well, was fast & was easy to start up. Charge that day was about $6 or $7--I think--on a 2 hour flight. Didn't know til I was on board that this would be a WiFi flight, but I am sure it would have been hard to sign up in advance since equipment can be changed at last minute. Since it was early a.m. flight like I usually take, I told attendant that I wished I could exchange some of my many unused drink coupons for the WiFi (as many others have suggested). Maybe instead of drink coupons just issue some kind of Bonus Bucks that can be accumulated and used for buying Early Boarding, Drinks or WiFi or whatever special services are offered (i.e. bringing the dog or cat along in the carrier). Give the Business Select passenger Bonus Bucks that are worth more and which don't have to be used on that date. I don't think it should captured in ticket charge so it can be free to all because there are many families and other people who would never use the WiFi. If not able to use some kind of bonus coupon, would prefer a flat annual membership fee with user and password access so any member of my family could use it at any time on any available flight. Actually, I would prefer it was included as part of the membership fee for my Southwest Visa.
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I LuV SouthWest Airlines!!! Wi-Fi, keep it a reasonable fee-----happy to pay for it. Great job SW Airlines.
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I like the idea of using drink coupons to pay for inflight wifi. I don't drink and those drink coupons just pile up...