Southwest Inflight Wi-Fi Upgrade in 2017

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Today, travelers demand's from airlines are ever increasing, and in today’s modern hyper-connected world, internet access is arguably the single thing people miss the most when on board an aircraft.

As with most things in the aviation industry, on board connectivity via Wi-Fi emerged a while ago, and was initially limited to premium cabins and expensive tickets. More and more it has spread to many carriers and cabin classes, and initial expensive prices have dropped. Southwest recently announced that it was teaming up with Global Eagle Entertainment to upgrade the Wi-Fi capabilities on all its fleet in 2017.

This expansion in Wi-Fi capabilities will be enhanced again in 2018. Southwest stated that by the end of 2017 the upgrade would have been rolled out to its entire 700 strong fleet of 737’s. This rollout coincides with the scheduled retirement by Southwest of its non-Wi-Fi equipped 737-300 aircraft.

Press Release

Per the Southwest press release, the company’s aim is “The Customer experience with connectivity remains a top priority for Southwest. Southwest's agreements with GEE and Panasonic demonstrate the Company's focus to keep Customers connected to what matters most in their lives, especially on board their Southwest flights.”

According to Southwest, connectivity will start to be available by mid-2017, and the bandwidth will be further expanded by mid-2018. The company stated the following, “In mid-2017, Customers will be able to browse the Internet at increased speeds as a result of an expected bandwidth increase of at least three times more than what they currently experience, with an additional expected bandwidth increase in mid-2018.”

GEE expansion

The tie-in with Southwest is another feather in Global Eagle Entertainment GEE’s cap. The company is already a major player in the world of providing Connectivity and inflight entertainment IFE. GEE had recently announced deals to provide connectivity for Air China, as well as enhancing its long-standing partnership with Qatar Airways. This is in addition to the deal announced in the summer that added Avianca Brazil to the stable of airlines GEE is providing inflight connectivity for.

Conclusion

This is huge if you LUV Southwest — good to see them getting up to speed 🙂

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Comments

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    This is good news. Wifi to date on Southwest seems a bit hit or miss.

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    I hope the latency will not be too terrible since speed is only half the story as latency or lag is another issue.

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    Karen Klein says:

    I think it’s great to have the connectivity in air. Families and business people need it. I do prefer to have whatever they are playing on the airplane and then books and music and shows on my own electronics. Usually I sleep. Now that I have kids I rely on the first much more. They never sleep! Only on overseas flights and then only a short time! I’m sure there are other parents who understand me ;o) I do find dollar store toys work wonders…you know the lure of NEW toys. lol!

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    Flew Southwest last week, and while the streaming entertainment is great, I still found their current wifi to be a bit slow and difficult to use for a few business purposes (pulling down big files from cloud services, etc.) An upgrade to their wifi services would be appreciated.

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    My preference would have been go-go, since T-Mobile customers such as myself can get a complimentary 60 mins on every flight, even multiple flights per day…still, this is better than nothing.

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    Now, if only Southwest would upgrade its fleet.

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    I hate airline WIFI. Hopefully this will be worth the charge!

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    If it isn’t ViaSat, satellite based Wi-Fi, I don’t even know why airlines bother. If your plane constantly has to be flying over land-based antennas, which are slow, then what’s the point. Gogo is so slow, so I can only hope the GEE Wi-Fi is better than that, but nothing is better than ViaSat.

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    Still not sure how I feel about wifi in planes. its somewhat nice to disconnect for a while but its so hard to not have wifi and connection 24/7

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    WN’s streaming is excellent already, they are such a good value for an airline.

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    Wonder what’s the added cost for this. Or maybe it is free or can pay with miles.

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    No baggage fees and better Wi-Fi, why fly anyone else

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    It’s good to see increased WiFi accessibility. The more bandwidth the better.

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    Bertrand Say says:

    WIFI should already be standard on all flights just like they are in hotels.

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    ADAM PARSONS says:

    About time more carriers starting offering free wi-fi even if it is slow. Hopefully a good change and more to come.

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    So what technology will GEE use on WN? KU? KA? ATG? That would be interesting to find out.

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    I think it is great to have this feature included. Hope it doesn’t cost too much to implement though.

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    SWA has to do this in order to keep pace with other airlines. Hopefully it works well

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    very nice, I just hope the price will be cheaper than other airlines.
    IMHO airplane Wifi pricing in general is a bit too expensive.

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    I also like to disconnect but with little ones at home it’s nice to know I can reach them now while flying with Southwest.

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    One more reason to fly SW.

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    rodney ross says:

    Just flew Southwest and even their TV connection was so much better than AA. Loved watching Steeler football game while flying. Made flight super quick Thanks SW

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    It’s great feature to have esp. when traveling on a business trip.

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    It has been about a year since I used AA’s inflight WIFI. It was so slow that I got frustrated.

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    Sometimes I like to be disconnected from the world, and I would agree with the previous comment that sometimes it’s nice to be disconnected.

    That said, unfortunately in today’s business world sometimes you just have to be connected (or at least it helps). So I don’t blame them for doing so. Ultimately the choice is ours.

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    Way to go, Southwest! Nothing is more aggravating than having to pay for terrible WIFI.

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    Am I the only one who enjoyed the “mandatory” disconnect from the rest of world – emails & text messages – when flying?