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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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I always try to fly Southwest. I like the bigger planes and the sit where ever you want policy. In reality a laptop battery is not going to last more than 2 hours. Maybe an iPhone or iPod will last longer. In my opinion it is not worth paying for WiFi if you are only going to be using it for a few hours. Most of my flights dont even last longer than that unless for some reason I am going to the east coast. I used Alaska Air Wifi when it was free but cannot see paying for it now. I have a broadband card and seriously would wait until I landed instead of even paying a few dollars for WiFi. Although if it was included in Business Select that would be a wonderful solution for the drink coupons that I never use. Maybe use them for drinks or WiFi. Hopefully someone from Southwest is listening here. Free Bags are one of the main reasons I fly Southwest and free WiFi would be a huge insentive for me to keep with Southwest as I make my own flight arrangements and can make them with any airline I want. This could be a good thing for Southwest if they play it right. Otherwise it will just frustrate and upset customers.
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I always take my laptop when I travel on Southwest. I will not pay for internet. however. Many airports, hotels, etc. charge for wifi service while some do not. I will not pay for this because sooner or later it will be free for business to stay competitive. Till then no thanks.
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Thanks for this great service! I would rather pay as needed, rather than added to the ticket price of my family (DH & 2 kids ages 4 & 7). We are usually quite happy with movies, books, & games. When I am traveling with my children, I am usually too busy entertaining them to take time for myself to surf the net (as it should be). My second request? Family seating would be extremely helpful or at least all of us in the first boarding group. I hate asking others to change their seats to accommodate me. My husband doesn't really care, but it really raises my stress level! Thanks for keeping the fares low! DL, Detroit, MI
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Not everyone, of course, will access onboard wi-fi, so a la carte pricing is the fairest way to go. Let those who use it pay for it. Building it into your fare structure will force those of us who won't use it to subsidize those who will. When you serve the city I need to get to, I fly always book on Southwest - primarily because of the fares, plus the comfort on board and would not be happy to see the fares increased to include extras. I'm happy to pay for a drink or sandwich - or wifi - anytime I'm so moved. Please don't inflate your ticket pricing to include wifi.
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Southwest is the best; whenever I go anywhere I fly Southwest or I don't fly! Two dollars would be reasonable for wi-fi. Thanks for putting it in, and thanks for the free baggage!
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just keep the drinks coming and the flight prices reasonable.
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I think it should be free to all not just the for business select passengers if thats what you have in mind and what I've been reading is alot of Business passgers think it should be free just for them come on us casual flyers would like to have it free too just cause we can't afford to fly all the time and our company doens't pay for it we casual flyers should get free also. I love to travel and always use southwest you guys are the best but I can't always afford it to be a select passenger.
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Wonderful suggestions for using drink tickets, minimal dollar increase to cost of ticket, free for A-listers, etc, instead of paying for internet access. Would recommend price commensurate with minutes of usable flight time. One suggestions would be to affiliate with Boingo. This service has hot spots at many airports, hotels, and restaurants throughout the country for a low monthly fee. They have saved me tons in hotel internet fees! I would not recommend AT&T or Gogo - both have poor customer service.
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I just don't get those that are upset that you might charge for this service. You've got the lowest fares, free bags, fun & friendly staff - I will happily pay for WiFi. Considering the fact that SW had to invest for the equipment, installation, maintenance and monthly fees ... yeah, I'll buck up for it. Those that don't want to ... let them pay more for their ticket AND for their luggage on another airline for their "free WiFi". Keep up the great work!
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I agree with Randall: Keep the fares low & and the bags free, and i will be glad to drop a few bucks for WiFi
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I need to know if I can connect to VPN through your WI-FI, as I do at hotels, etc. That will be the difference between 'Working' and 'Surfing' - and will mean whether I can put the charge on my expenses.
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I agree - add $1-$2 to each ticket to pay for the WiFi or let us use our drink tickets for WiFi - I always earn drink tickets - and I don't drink - so they never get used.
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Just another way for SWA to jack up the fares. In the past year the ticket price tpa to pvd has doubled. There are rarely any ding fares that make sense for me. The thought that I'd pay to use the internet on the plane is ludicrous. As it is I've cut out most of the flights I used to take. Maybe the airlines will get the message if enough people stop flying.
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I think it should be free, The prices now days just to fly are getting a bit ridiculous! I Think it would definately pull customers from the other airlines, which in turn would make Southwest a lot more money in the long run! M. Noonan Las Vegas
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Great idea about WiFi, but now we need some power outlets...Either that or most computers will not get much time on WiFi that would merit the cost of service...IF there is a cost.
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If we have to pay for it lets get a year for a set price. Free would be better. Also if it is PAYG then it needs to be available in the waiting area plus the aircraft with password logon to keep people honest.
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I agree with the many who have already spoken - keep the bags free and the fares low. Then I'd be willing to pay, either by credit card or redeeming a drink ticket, for the Wi-Fi. And, if you can access your VPN, even better. If offering it for free to A-lister's and Business Select customers isn't possible, perhaps at a reduced rate. This servoce could also be prorated for A-listers by the number of months of uninterrupted A-list status they've achieved. There are MANY business travellers who have been VERY loyal to SouthWest for years, but they are not allowed by their company to purchase a business select fare.
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I really dont need WiFi when IFLY ( forgive the pun) and feel sorry for those who cant go 1-2hrs without being connected to a laptop. But PLEASE REGULATE AND CONTROL NOISE POLLUTION!!!! Headphones only, mute speakers, and NO VERBAL COMMUNICATION...I really dont want to listen to my neighbor! How about limiting WiFI to certain rows? I love SWA ALMOST as much as I value privicy!
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Great news!! It will be wonderful to use this on the longer flights. I think it should be built into the cost of the ticket for the following reasons; -I don't want to pull out credit cards and enter private information when I'm sitting between two strangers that are are 2 feet from my screen -I don't use the TV, shampoo, soap, phone, etc when I stay in a hotel but I don't expect them to make them all "optional" services I can pay for individually with a credit card or coupon -I don't use the overhead bin when I fly, but I'm sure there is a cost to installing them on an airplane and I'm sure I pay for it in my ticket price. -I wouldn't mind the trade-off for drink tickets since I have accumulated a million of them and never seem to get the chance to use them. -I have never used the EMERGENCY EXIT in all of the years I have flown, but please don't install a credit card swiper on it in case I ever do use it!!!!!!!!!!!!! I promise I won't complain that I have to pay for it in the price of the ticket.... Thanks, guys!!! LUV YOU!!!!
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Need to know the cheepest rates from West Palm Beach to San Diego, CA and to go to Manila, Philippines
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Oh no, Please don't do this. Isn't there any place where a passenger can sit in peace without being forced to share hours with a seatmate who taps away and elbows the armrest to keep typing? What about online noise? Will there be a requirement for earphones? This is a bad idea. Human beings need some rest from technology. Those of us who want that respite should not be forced to deal with seatmates who have to be online during a flight.
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I love Southwest!! You are the very best.
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Just adding my 2 cents....I fly from BWI to Vegas several times a year and having WiFi access would be wonderful. I agree with those who have suggested adding $1 to all fares to cover the cost or if charging a fee to allow us to use the drink coupons for WiFi. Power plugs would be great since my battery only lasts an hour. I love flying Southwest! I had to fly to a non-SWA city in December so had to take another airline - the seats were smaller and the crew not very friendly. I' ve told my husband when we move somewhere to retire it has to be within 2 hrs of a SWA city!
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I flew a WiFi SWA a while ago. It was fantastic and it was not expensive!
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I fly SW as often as I can for business. I like the idea of Wi-Fi connectivity for several reasons. But PLEASE don't EVER consider allowing the use of cell phones or VOIP during a flight !!! If someone can connect to the Internet, they then have the capability to send & receive emails and instant messages, and wouldn't need to have voice communication capabilities during the flight.
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WiFi would be a nice perk for investors JoeH
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What a great way to gather relevant information about introducing a new service. Some really good ideas that you may not have thought of oherwise. Any investment should produce a return, but getting feedback from Southwest fliers about their preferences and ideas in an open forum is something I've never seen from another airline. The reason SW is successful is you take down barriers other airlines ut up. Everything from free bags, no penalties/change fees on flights you decide not to take, just a credit to use later (by the way, this is huge, you should use this in your advertising), attractive fares, companion pass, business friendly gate areas including comfy chairs and electrical outlets, and a crew who actually smile! Don't know what you'll decide on wi-fi but I'm certain it will be customer friendly as is everything else.
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It would be great advertisement to add another " Free Thing" to Southwest and make your Company shine among the rest!
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Personally, I don't think that the ticket prices should increase for all passengers to make Wi-Fi free. Quite honestly, it's not free if it's added to the ticket cost. Not everyone will use this service so it's nof fair to have everyone subsidize it for those who will use it. "Pay per use" is the most fair way to do it. As suggested by others on this thread, for those who want it, it would be nice to pay for it when you book and pay for your airfare. On another note, Southwest is the best airline, hands down. I fly with Southwest because of their fair pricing and on-time record. Other airlines charge more and have a terrible on-time record. Southwest, you are truly amazing . Keep up the great service; I am one happy customer.
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wi-fi will come in handy for business travelers especially for work communication. I like the free aspect. I think you will make it up on the customers that will sway toward your airline. A perfect example is tonight. I am going to dinner before work and I have some business to attend to via wi-fi on my laptop and I am selecting my restaurant, based on if they have wi-fi or not. I actually called a nice Italian restaurant and asked if they had wi-fi and the hostest said, "What is wi-fi?" I said, "Wireless internet" and she said, "Is that some new fancy dancy thing?" then she asked the manager if they had wi-fi and he said he had never heard of it lol...she said I guess we don't, must be something new lol.
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Charging for wifi????? I thought your while philosophy is about a single price without nickel and diming your customers. Most people that say they will pay for wifi if you keep fares low are people that will never use the wifi service. Imagine the free publicity if wifi it's free at SWA. T.
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I think we all like free 🙂
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Thanks Southwest. I'll gladly pay for my wifi. Tell all those cheap b**tards that want everything for free to take a train.
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Pay for WIFI if you need it in advance of the flight. It should be free in the airports.
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I agree. Keep the fares low, bags free and who cares what Wifi costs. I'd much rather pay for that than what the other airlines are charging for bags and putting up with their surley flight crews....
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GREAT NEWS - I agree with a few others to definitely inidcate during reservations which flights have WIFI and which don't as you rollout to the fleet !!!
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it should be free if you buy a business select ticket
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Here is my suggestion: Have a tier pricing plan as follows: 1. Fly XX (low # of flights/year) times -- pay $10 for WiFi for a flight 2. Fly XX (higher # of flights/year than #1 above but less than #3 below) -- pay $5 for WiFi during a flight 3. Fly XX (I suggest 25 flights/year) -- complimentary WiFi for these frequent travelers -- these travelers are likely business folks and WE need internet access to be more productive with our jobs -- this would attract business folks to travel more with Southwest. I know that I would love to have internet in-flight -- I travel almost every week on Southwest and spend lots of idle time on the plane. Please take my suggestion into consideration. Thanks, R
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If you want to make A LOT more money by gaining A LOT more customers, make and keep the Wi-Fi access free!!!
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I agree with those above. Add a couple bucks to the ticket price and advertise "Internet Flies FREE!"
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For those on a trip that requires changing planes, there needs to be a way where we don't have to pay for wifi only once, not on both planes.
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It doesn't seem fair to increase the cost of a flight to everyone, when only a few will be using the wi-fi connection. Please give that option to those who wish to use it and pay a couple of dollars more when he/she books a flight. I really do not wish to pay more for a flight for something I will not use. Make it optional, please!
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I don't think it should be in the ticket price because a lot of people don't take their computers with them, like me. People who want wi-fi, let them buy a yearly membership or have them buy tickets. I'd much prefer that we can pick our seats when we buy our tickets instead of having to get on line exactly 24 hours prior to get an A seat. SW is my favorite airline. All personnel are so pleasant and always with a smile.
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I was on a Delta flight (sorry, it was free) when they were testing last year and was thrilled to have the service. I would be willing to pay $5 for it for fun, not for work. I usually travel on holiday for long weekends or a week away several times a year. I love the idea of using drink coupons. Can't wait to see what you do about the issue of changing planes. The day pass sounded good. You should offer people the option when they book their tickets so when they print their boarding pass, the code is already there.
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A few things, BIG inhale: 1) I fly SWA almost everywhere I go. But I agree with Anonymous 14:09 when it came to recent prices. For essentially the same flight times, American Airlines was the same cost as SWA. Maybe a fluke, but something to note. 2) The reason I point this out above is that I would rather get an in flight movie on long flights (offered on AA, plus I have the option to PAY for a meal in coach) than WiFi. First, nothing is free folks, and frankly SWA is running a business so I don't blame them one bit for passing the cost of WiFi service/install on to the passengers. However, like someone else said...How would we monitor the charge if it were automatically in the ticketed price at a dollar or two across the board? Sometimes I would surely use it, across the nation yes (may even use my free drink coupons-love that idea, and have many now that they don't expire...thanks SWA!), Oakland to Vegas-NO...give me my free drink so I can hit the ground running! ; ) 3) Business Select passengers already get so many perks, that it is sickening that they would even ask to get yet another free perk-ESPECIALLY since we know that a good majority of them are NOT the ones paying for the ticket, their employer is, either up front or through reimbursement. So I don't think they truly grasp the ordeal that the flight-for -pleasure passenger experiences (Yes YES I get it that they go on vacations too-not the point I am making here, guys) B.S. passengers...you are often spending someone else's money and getting PAID to travel. Before you all rip my head off...my mother traveled for YEARS on business, so I get it-travel takes the piss out of you, but it also takes it out of the blue collar, pay-for-it-yourself schmoe, who can finally afford a little vacation and happens to be going to the same city that you are doing business in. Can he get Wifi free too, please?? Not hating...just saying. 4) That brings me to another point....if your "Bag Flys Free", require passengers to CHECK IT IN, or PAY!! That would allow for free WiFi. I am sick to death of watching all the selfish travelers who cram a small wheeled suitcase so full that it barley fits in the overhead. They take up so much room, that the person who didn't happen to pay $10 for "Early Bird" check-in has no where to stow their back pack! I say...if you want to bring your luggage into the cabin...pay for it!! The rest of us are fed up listenting to the poor attendant begging overhead for people to remove smaller bags from the overhead, so that your larger one will fit, so people can get seated and we MIGHT actually be able to take off on time(Cathy Brooks - Fri, 01/29/2010 - 20:30). On a recent flight from Vegas to Oakland, I watched as a woman pushed and pushed her suitcase into the overhead to no avail. Finally the attendant watching said "I really don't think that will fit, may we check it for you?" The girl says, "No, I'll just take some items out." You can imagine what ensued next. Picture a suitcase being opened in the middle of the aisle while this selfish woman held up the passengers boarding, and removed items from her bag and placed them into her "purse" which let's FACE it people, was acutally a carry-on (so now she has two carry-ons technically) GRRRRRRrrrrr, hissssss. Personally, NO, I will not remove my normal sized carry on from the overhead, and limit my leg room because you are too good, or too impatient to stand at the carousel!!!!!! So you see, I pay the $10 just for the chance to get my back pack in the overhead (because a seat is a seat...I am going to get one regardless of boarding group), meanwhile you stroll in (free) in group C with a full blown suitcase. I did not pay $10 bucks for YOUR luggage-I'd rather pay that for my WiFi, MOVIE, or hey-A MEAL, for that matter!! In summary....my issue is with the "suitcase in the cabin people" collectively. I don't care who you are~Business Select, A-List, Group Z. Oh, and one more thing...SWA, who is liable if the "carry-on" suitcase that people are struggling to get into the overhead, slips and hits someone in the face or head and causes a laceration that needs stitching????? I for one, see some close calls on nearly every flight. PEOPLE...If its bigger than a back pack or a rolling laptop case...and you want it to be free....check it, if you want it in the cabin/overhead, PAY because my time is valuable, and I want to push back from the gate on time!!! 5) I have faith in SWA. I truly think they could have the following as a standard, include it in the ticket price, and still beat other airlines for fare. (The meal is optional...I'd be fine if that was left out to control costs but I'd like the option to buy SOMETHING better than peanuts, graham crakers, Oreo's, or Cheese Nips-can you say Carbs much??) -Free bags (all flights-already in place, YAY SWA!! ....but I say go ahead charge the selfish) -Wifi (longer flights, or flights that allow a person to log on for at least 45 min maybe??) -A meal offering (longer flights-does not have to be 4 course, but how about a sandwhich, with chips, and a piece of fruit? I only need a mayo and mustard packet-leave the fancy Chile Lime Chipotle secret spread to the other airlines) **Again, this could be charged for rather than included. -Movie (on longer flights-maybe control costs by not having a new release...I would rather watch a movie I've seen, than stare at my tray table, look at the tops of clouds, or read SkyMall or my own magazine AGAIN. Actually I haven't seen all the movies I wanted to in 2009, so it could be a "new release" to me! I could do the movie on the laptop thing, but like so many others, I don't want to drain my battery, so if it's more cost effective to install a power outlet than a movie screen and rent the movie or whatever...then I am okay with no movie. Just some suggestions to have some upgrade options while still showing other airlines that it can be done more economically. But as for the WiFi question...I feel free is great, but if there is a fee, then let it be per use/per person. Everyone should not have to pay for something I use, if they don't. I do like the monthly thing for those who travel more.
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Great news. Though I agree with one blogger that it would be nice if Wi-Fi was free or somehow included in the ticket price or drink coupon. Hate to feel nickel and dimed. Still Southwest if the best....
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Add $1 to your airfare and eat whatever other cost there is. We would all love Wi-fi but I am not going to pay for it!
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I have no interest in SWA building someone else's WiFi use into my ticket cost. Anyone asking for the WiFi service to be free doesn't really understand . . . well probably much of anything in this world. I have no issue adding it to the Business Select package as an added service, but don't ask everyone to supplement the few who will use it.
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Please ban VOIP. Hearing a seatmate jabbering for several hours would make me want to change planes in mid-air. Although I love Southwest, I would avoid any airline that had VOIP.
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Unless WiFi will be free and/or built-into ticket prices (sounds good to me, at up to $1 or $2 built-in whether I use it or not and you still can advertise it as "free"), DEFINITELY allow free drink coupons to be exchanged for WiFI in some way. That'd be great! Also, DEFINITELY ban VOIP/SIP, although there's nothing stopping some passengers from yapping loudly the whole trip - even if not on a phone call... If for some ridiculous reason, there's a charge, it better be VERY reasonable, since, yes, our electronic devices only get to be used for part of the flight and there's no way to charge them on longer flights (I've yet to see a SWA plane with any power outlets - speaking of which, why do all of those fancy airport seats that you've added have blank metal plates where power and USB outlets should be at the gates?!?!), and I imagine we'll be lucky to get DSL speeds, at best? WiFi should work for an entire flight, including connections (same or different plane). Any other method would be a real hassle, for your staff as well as passengers. There's another reason to just keep it free/included.