It was just a couple of days ago that we wrote about the first airline that will offer free Starlink Wi-Fi on several of its flights. Until now (well, until when this new Starlink service starts), JetBlue has been the only U.S.-based airline that offers high-speed Wi-Fi for free. But now Southwest has said they’re also going to offer it for free, albeit only temporarily, and only on certain flights in the western U.S.
It’s all part of a test to bring faster internet to more customers.
According to a memo the airline sent to its employees this week, Southwest has added upgraded hardware for its Wi-Fi service on 40 of its Boeing 737s. It will be available on certain flights in the western U.S., beginning on May 4.
It’s said to be their latest attempt to improve onboard connectivity.
Southwest currently offers free texting, inflight entertainment, movies, live and on-demand TV series, and music from iHeart Radio. They also sell Wi-Fi access (on Wi-Fi-enabled aircraft, of course) for $8 per day (although it’s free for Preferred Members). However even then, access to high-bandwidth applications, websites, and video conferencing services such as Netflix, HBO Max, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams is not allowed (they also block potentially offensive online content, so no PornHub and the like. Sorry not sorry).
“This trial will allow Customers to stream, browse, and engage on the internet at no cost just like other complementary services,” Tony Roach, vice president of customer experience and customer relations wrote in the memo. “Our goal is to evaluate how the new hardware improves performance while delivering a reliable internet experience used by a large volume of Customers.”
Heck, all they needed to do was see what happened when Panasonic Avionics teamed up with a major airline in late 2020 and gave passengers unlimited high-speed in-flight internet to see what they would do.
The Southwest free Wi-Fi program will be available, where it’s available, through June 10th. If you’re on one of the flights that offers it, enjoy! 🙂
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