updated 04:40 pm EDT, Fri August 21, 2009
Southwest Airlines announced recently that it has concluded testing Wi-Fi Internet access on four of its airplanes and has plans to expand the in-flight service to its entire fleet as early as next year. Passengers involved in the testing have returned positive feedback, and Southwest itself is pleased with the technical performance of the in-flight service and the customer response, according to a Friday report.
During testing, passengers used their notebooks and smartphones to check e-mail, stream video and browse the Internet. Southwest and other airlines that offer in-flight Wi-Fi usually restrict VoIP and video chat as a courtesy to other passengers.
Unlike Delta and American airlines, which use an Aircell satellite-based broadband service for in-flight data access, Southwest uses Row 44 for the data connection. The airline will now need to determine a pricing structure for the service, which is expected to be announced before the end of the year.