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In-Flight Wifi - VPN Issue

ridgeway
Active Member

So, anyone have a good list of blocked services and ports on the in-flight Wifi? 

 

I ask because usually when I pay $8 a flight I used to get clear access to my VPN I have at home and have never had issues connecting (from Hotels to hotspots, no issues to date). However, I've noticed that I cannot, despite many trials and different settings, cannot access the server be it using OpenVPN, L2PT or even PPTP... 

 

Have they (you, SWA), blocked all related ports or even do packet inspection so no matter what port, it gets 'caught' and blocked? I have also noticed some slowdown in general... which may be a sign of packet inspection... 

 

Anyone have thoughts? If I can't securely access my VPN I don't think I want to pay any more... 

 

Thanks!

 

 Edit: 4/10/2018 

 

Honestly, I’ve been following this thread for a while, and now “first page” posts are mostly positive deflecting Solutions to the actual VPN problem? Thumb drives? You have kids so just watch the (working) “in flight Wi-Fi tv on your iPad” instead of “troubleshooting the work issue” are kinda silly arguments on why this is still a specific VPN problem, and why there has, despite direct interaction in this thread from southwest employees, been no action towards fixing this specific VPN related issue. This makes me pretty disappointed on how this thread and how much I really even trust this forum in general. Hope southwest takes note. 


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Main flight paths are between DEN -> DAL (LUV Field) -> AUS -> PVR
63 REPLIES 63

Re: In-Flight Wifi - Issue

ridgeway
Active Member

Bump


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Main flight paths are between DEN -> DAL (LUV Field) -> AUS -> PVR

Re: In-Flight Wifi - Issue

kcorkan
New Arrival

I've had the same issue (not being able to connect to my VPN) the last 2 times I've purchased wifi and would love to hear if there is a resolution.     

Re: In-Flight Wifi - Issue

ridgeway
Active Member

up / bump


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Main flight paths are between DEN -> DAL (LUV Field) -> AUS -> PVR

Re: In-Flight Wifi - Issue

DancingDavidE
Top Contributor

I've had the VPN work before, but I primarily wanted to use remote desktop and the connection was not very fast for that purpose.

 

A number of variables might conspire against you having good VPN connection, or to do what you intended once you establish it.

 

I haven't run enough experiments yet to see if sitting in a particular row of the aircraft improves the service...I'd be very interested to hear feedback from some of the other frequent posters @franktravel @chgoflyer @sarahsmith

 

My experience so far is that the wifi is good for basic web browsing, email, and messaging but if I'm working on big report files I bring a thumb drive.

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.

Re: In-Flight Wifi - Issue

sarahsmith
Active Member

I would agree it might be hard to troubleshoot the VPN issue. 

 

I have limited input because even though I travel a lot, it's not for work and thusly I don't pay the $8 often. Since I'm wrangling kids I often stick with the free TV on our iPads. 

 

I know creating the best onboard experience for customers is SWA's goal, including the wifi. And, have heard that they're bringing a second provider into the mix. I'm unsure how this will affect VPN, stuff. And I don't know that they'll be replacing the current provider either. If I remember correctly that's supposed to happen this year sometime. 

 

Sorry I don't have much helpful input here. Ha! I do see that this is an often posted about issue here in the community. Hopefully with the second provider will help improve the experience overall. 

Re: In-Flight Wifi - Issue

chgoflyer
Top Contributor

I've been very disapointed with the internet service. I've never been able to get a solid connection that was usable for more than possibly checking email, or light browsing... and when it has seemed functional it often goes down and becomes completely unavailable for much of a flight. This is one area where Southwest really misses the mark compared to other carriers. GoGo is more expensive, but at least I know I'll be able to get work done. I've had my $8 refunded by Southwest too many times to count. 😞

Re: In-Flight Wifi - Issue

LindseyD
Retired Community Manager

Hi @ridgeway,

 

We're working on some improvements to our WiFi offerings this year - we know it's a big issue for Customers (and rightfully so). By the end of 2017 you should see a difference in the quality and speed of the WiFi. 

 

Re: In-Flight Wifi - Issue

ridgeway
Active Member

@LindseyD Great to hear that y'all at Southwest are putting some time into this, including replying to a community post here on the forums as well!

 

Regarding the other replies, here are my thoughts:

  • I used to be able to connect to my VPN in the earliest days of the in-air wifi program; sometimes it wasn't the quickest but I sure didn't have any issue connecting and remaining connected throughout the flight (given it was over land the entirety of the flight
  • My VPN is not some third-party VPN service, it's simply a VPN server located on a fiber connection at my company's main office - connection via OpenVPN, L2TP, or (not preferred, obviously) PPTP. Never used any third-party VPN software like those that are needed for some of those 'Private Browsing' VPN's
    • All 3 methods now fail to connect, despite them working great at hotels, and various other public wifi hotspots
  • Now, my next step in troubleshooting was to make sure to pause/shut off all connections to high-bandwidth apps such as Dropbox (Business, nonetheless), Adobe CC, iCloud, G-Drive... etc (if you can't tell, I'm a power used) - No luck, still lack of connection
    • I use a nifty tool that I have been using for years called "Little Snitch" and I specifically have an 'In-Flight' profile made that will auto-disable connections to whatever apps and ports I'd like. 
  • Not only can I not connect anymore, but the speeds (tested by general direct download via SSH or using a tool like speedtest.net or speedof.me) - Speeds wen't from reasonable 2 years ago (5mbps down, 2mbps up were, I believe, the best I recorded) - now I have to switch to kbps to even measure it. 
  • Despite the lack of connection, I can still get some basic functionality to discuss things with my team via Slack, though it does 'lag' sometimes. I do recall when in-air wifi was first rolling out, having the ability to video chat (obviously just tried as a test, wouldn't do this on the reg)  but my point is, there is absolutely not enough stable bandwidth for this now. 
  • Overall, I figure this is an attempt to prevent people who use VPN's to circumvent the blocks put fourth by the on-board (I assume it's onboard, ha) firewall.
    • No matter how nice the speed is today, there is still no connecting to my VPN via any usual protocol. 

Possible solutions?

  • First and foremost, have a clear and non-guesswork network policy that can be read
  • For the abusing VPN users? Blacklist VPN providers that are dedicated to circumvent firewalls. 
  • Throttle bandwidth? (Though this is likely used heavily already)
  • Let company's or premium/A-Lister's circumvent some of the firewall rules
    • Let corporations and businesses submit whitelist IP/domain approvals for private VPN's
    • Charge a premium for non-A-list business class, or similar systems
  • Add more on-board resources? I'm sure I'm stating the obvious but clearly the BYOD southwest wifi and TV has become much more popular and much more people know about it compared to when it was just on a few aircraft a few years ago. 

Best of luck to the future of on-board wifi connectivity and the future of LUV at SWA!

 

See ya onboard (Flying out from LUV Field here in a few hours)

 

Cheers,

Ridge

Heart

 


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Main flight paths are between DEN -> DAL (LUV Field) -> AUS -> PVR

In-Flight Wifi - Issue

LUV-SWA
New Arrival

Ridge and @LindseyD -

 

Thank you Ridge for putting into technical jargon what I cannot.  I have been flying SWA for a long time (since they used to have free donuts and coffee in the waiting areas and the first row of seats were backwards) and I LUV SWA.  Although I am a "Lifetime Gold" memeber on AA, I haven't set foot on the airline in over a decade and have no plans to do so any time soon.

 

My flight time has historically been some of my most productive work time - away from phones and interruptions.  While not always "perfect", I could usually get a signal to allow me to get my e-mail and remain productive in the air.  The last several weeks the signal has gotten so weak (and/or as Ridge pointed out my VPN is now blocked) that I have not been able to connect one time in over five flights.  This has a SUBSTANTIAL impact on my ability to remain productive and I look forward to the improvements you all are making to your infrastructure - in my opinion it can't happen quickly enough.

 

LUV-SWA