SWA Launches Wi-Fi
SWA Launches Wi-Fi
February 16, 2009
Southwest Airlines on 10 February flew the first commercial trial of Row 44's satellite-based inflight connectivity solution and unveiled its new inflight homepage created in partnership with Yahoo!
SWA launched the Row 44 connectivity service on one aircraft and is set to equip
three additional aircraft by early March 2009 to test the service "for the next few months," according to an airline spokesperson.
Customers can use their personal Wi-Fi enabled devices - including notebook computers, iPhones, and Wi-Fi enabled smart phones - to access the Internet, e-mail, VPN, music, and shopping.
Cellular technology will not work during the trial and has not yet received final FCC approval, Southwest emphasized.
Passengers on the Wi-Fi-enabled aircraft will receive placards and onboard instruction sheets as they board.
The connectivity service is free of charge during the trial. Southwest will establish the cost of the service, "which will be in line with our low-fare model," if it expands the availability following the trial.
Southwest is using the trial to test technical and customer satisfaction factors including take-up rate, number of connections by length of haul, purchase intent, overall satisfaction, and brand perception, the spokesperson said.
If the trial is a success, Southwest "will offer the service to as many customers as possible, starting with implementation on our newest aircraft, the B737-700. Our intention is to start working on retrofitting the fleet."
Southwest currently has "well over" 500 B737-family aircraft in its fleet.
The Row 44 system uses an existing high capacity Ku-band satellite system currently
operated worldwide. The low-profile antenna is mounted to the top of the fuselage, and
system LRUs are installed in the interior of the aircraft above the passenger cabin.
Passenger access to the system will be supported by two or more cabin wireless LAN units, based on aircraft configuration.
'Internet a High Priority' SWA Says "Internet connectivity has been high on our list of priorities for quite some time," Dave Ridley, SWA Senior Vice President of Marketing and Revenue Management, said. "We believe the aircraft-to-satellite technology is the most robust solution in the industry, and we look forward to the feedback from our customers."
"Southwest is all about creating the best travel experience for their customers," said John Guidon, Row 44 CEO. "We couldn't be prouder that they've selected Row 44's high-speed broadband to enhance their customers' experience yet again with Internet connectivity inflight."
The new inflight Yahoo!/Southwest homepage, which will be maintained by Yahoo!,
features destination content, a one-of-akind flight tracker, and daily local news and information programming.
Destination-relevant content includes local events, weather and news, and destination guides that highlight top restaurants, attractions, and shopping.
The new flight tracker lets passengers follow the plane's flight path and view "fly-over" points of interest along the route, with images from Flickr online photo management and sharing application. A number of Yahoo! Games also are available.