Southwest to enable Wi-Fi use on 737 fleet

Jan 30, 2010 By Julie Johnsson

Southwest Airlines has finally decided to wire its Boeing 737 fleet for wireless Internet service after dabbling with the concept for two years.

The big question: Will the discounter offer its Wi-Fi service for peanuts?

Texas-based Southwest said Friday that it plans to begin outfitting its aircraft to handle Row 44's satellite-based by the second quarter of 2010.

Southwest will install equipment on about 15 aircraft per month initially and gradually increase that rate to 25 planes per month. It estimates that Wi-Fi will be available on the more than 540 planes in its fleet by early 2012.

In little more than two years, Internet service has become widely available on flights within the U.S. Itasca-based Aircell, the leading Wi-Fi provider, has installed its Gogo service on about 700 jetliners and earlier this month raised $176 million to further fuel its growth.

Passengers have been slow to warm to the service, however. Forrester Research estimates that about 15 percent of passengers surf the Web on a Wi-Fi-enabled flight, although 80 percent of these users purchase Wi-Fi on subsequent flights

Some theorize that pricing practices are slowing adoption rates. Customers who are used to free Wi-Fi at neighborhood coffee shops may balk at paying $12.95 to log on for a three-hour flight.

"There's no question airlines remain frustrated with some of the pricing of some of the vendors," said Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst with Forrester Research Inc.

Getting the price right is especially important for Southwest, which built its reputation on low fares and the concept that it doesn't nickel-and-dime customers. And while Southwest primarily operates short- to medium-length flights, survey data shows that passenger interest in is greatest on longer trips, Harteveldt said.

Southwest isn't saying much about what services it will offer through Row 44 or how they will be priced. The carrier said in a post on its "Nuts About Southwest" blog Friday that it is still testing a variety of price points for Internet connections on its flights.

"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!" wrote Dave Ridley, Southwest's senior vice-president for marketing and revenue management.

Explore further: Internet TV case: US justices skeptical, concerned

2 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Verizon gives free Wi-Fi to Internet customers

Jul 27, 2009

(AP) -- Verizon is giving some of its home broadband customers free access to thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots in airports and other public places, taking a page from competitors that already offer wireless Internet access.

Wi-Fi for travelers becomes Web marketing lure

Nov 10, 2009

(AP) -- Google, Yahoo, eBay and Microsoft, competitors on the Web, all have the same idea for marketing themselves this holiday season: temporarily providing free Wi-Fi access in airports, airplanes and public places.

iPass Wi-Fi Network Access in the Sky

Aug 24, 2004

Connexion by Boeing, a business unit of The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA), and iPass Inc. (NASDAQ: IPAS) today announced an agreement to deliver iPass enterprise customers secure in-flight Wi-Fi Internet connectivity. Through the agreement iPass users will have ...

Is neighbor's Wi-Fi signal free for me to use?

Nov 11, 2009

Q. The other day, my Internet service went down as it does from time to time. But this particular time, I needed to check my e-mail for an important reply I was expecting. After some frustrating time passed, I happened to ...

Recommended for you

Internet TV case: US justices skeptical, concerned

16 hours ago

Grappling with fast-changing technology, U.S. Supreme Court justices debated Tuesday whether they can protect the copyrights of TV broadcasters to the shows they send out without strangling innovations in ...

Hundreds in Mexico protest telecommunications law

17 hours ago

Hundreds of students and activists marched in Mexico's capital Tuesday to protest a telecommunications law being debated by the Senate that they say will allow the government to arbitrarily censor Internet content.

User comments : 0

More news stories

US urged to drop India WTO case on solar

Environmentalists Wednesday urged the United States to drop plans to haul India to the WTO to open its solar market, saying the action would hurt the fight against climate change.