Southwest Airlines to Include In-Flight Wi-Fi
Southwest Airlines confirmed on its company blog today that it will join the growing list of airlines offering in-flight wireless Internet, or Wi-Fi.
The airline has been testing in-flight Wi-Fi for a while but now plans to include internet access through Wi-Fi hotspots in the entire fleet of planes. Southwest will provide the service through the company Row 44. If the name itself wasn't a giveaway, Row 44 specializes in providing Wi-Fi internet access in commercial planes.
Southwest plans to start installing Wi-Fi in some planes this spring and to have the whole fleet ready for Internet-savvy passengers by 2012. Anyone with a Wi-Fi compatible laptop or mobile device will be able to connect wirelessly to the Internet while in the air.
Southwest is actually one of the last major airlines to commit to providing Wi-Fi. Other major carriers, like Delta, American Airlines, Continental and Virgin America have already started putting Wi-Fi access points in planes .
If Southwest moves quickly, it could catch up to its competitors. Several of the other airlines, such as Continental, are taking the Wi-Fi integration slowly. Southwest, meanwhile, says it plans to install Wi-Fi in 15 planes per month.
Southwest has not released information on pricing yet, but other airlines generally charge $5 for less than 1.5 hours of Internet usage, $10 for less than 3 hours and $13 for anything over that.
Southwest is well known for having low prices on tickets, so it's possible the company will aim to charge lower fees than its competitors. Its announcement also hints at this, stating that "just like our fares, [the Wi-Fi] will be a great value. You can count on it!"