Yes, that Southwest! No-frills no longer, Southwest announced via their blog today that they have completed wifi installation across 70% of their fleet. The wifi service includes high-speed satellite internet, live TV, and movies-on-demand. There are no seat-back monitors, instead services are available via your own personal devices.
This past January we began testing movies-on-demand in order to round out our offering and introduce more variety for our Customers. As of today, our TV package – which includes unlimited access to live and on-demand television – and movies-on-demand are available on all WiFi-enabled planes! Southwest has long studied inflight entertainment but the cost and complexity of a seat-back device was never a fit for our lean and mean business model. WiFi, and specifically Row 44, our satellite-based WiFi provider, presented us with the unique ability to offer both broadband WiFi and a robust inflight entertainment solution through a single system. That combined with more and more Customers bringing their own wireless devices onboard means we’re delivering cutting edge technology and entertainment inflight. How’s that for a “low frills” carrier?
WiFi access: $8
TV: $5 (includes unlimited access to live television channels and on-demand television episodes)
Movies: $5 per movie
How it works:
Once onboard a WiFi-enabled plane and a Flight Attendant has indicated it’s safe to use electronic devices, simply connect to “southwestwifi” and launch your web browser to get immediate access to the Inflight Entertainment Portal. From there you can purchase one of the above products or browse the free portal offerings including a cool flight tracker, games, and southwest.com.
Q: Which planes have movies-on-demand and TV?
A: WiFi, TV and movies are now available on all -700 and -800 aircraft. This represents over 70% of our fleet.
Q: I just want email. Won’t the addition of these entertainment options require a ton of bandwidth?
A: The movies and TV do not interfere with the bandwidth onboard. The live channels are delivered through a dedicated “pipe” designed specifically for that reason and the on-demand content is stored on a server onboard the aircraft.
Q: How is Southwest able to offer live television inflight?
A: Southwest chose Row 44 as our WiFi provider. Row 44 is a satellite-based service that allows us to offer a wide range of entertainment in addition to some of the most robust WiFi in the skies. As we expand to overwater destinations, the WiFi will continue to work ensuring Customers are connected wherever they fly.
Q: Can’t I just purchase a movie or watch TV through the WiFi?
A: Being in an aircraft means that the bandwidth is shared among the users onboard. Video requires a lot of bandwidth which can result in a less-than-stellar experience such as buffering and pixelating. Because our service utilizes a dedicated pipe for live television and stored onboard content for movies and tv episodes, the result is flawless and instantaneous..no waiting for something to download. The quality is something you have to see to believe.
Q: Will you be getting more live television channels?
A: Yes! We will be adding up to 20 channels of live television this year including children’s and general interest programming.
Q: If I purchase a movie and don’t finish it can I finish it on the ground?
A: Not at this time. All the products are only available on WiFi-enabled planes above 10,000 feet.
Q: So, let me get this straight, if I have a stop or connection, my purchase is good all day?
A: Correct! Your purchase of WiFi, television, or a movie will be available on the device you purchased it on all day so long as you are on a WiFi-enabled plane.
Q: How do I know if my flight has WiFi?
A: It’s denoted on the checkin confirmation on southwest.com and through the WiFi widget located at www.southwest.com/wifi 24 hours prior to your flight (you’ll need your confirmation #)