Southwest Airlines reports it is the first airline to test new aircraft to use satellite technology on commercial flights enabling passenger access to in-flight wi-fi. One aircraft now employs the Row 44 technology and Southwest is set to equip three additional aircraft in March 2009. Southwest is also partnering with Yahoo! to offer an in-flight homepage with destination-relevant content. Southwest will be testing the technology for the next few months.
When Southwest Customers board the wi-fi enabled aircraft, they will be greeted with wi-fi placards and onboard instruction sheets. Those interested in using the service during the test period will have the opportunity to log on to the service free of charge via their own personal wi-fi enabled device (laptops, iPhones, wi-fi enabled smart phones, etc.). Cellular technology will not work with the wi-fi service. The service is being offered on a trial basis, and has not yet received final FCC approval.
"Internet connectivity has been high on our list of priorities for quite some time," said Dave Ridley, senior vice president of Marketing and Revenue Management. "We believe the aircraft-to-satellite technology is the most robust solution in the industry, and we look forward to the feedback from our customers."
"Southwest is all about creating the best travel experience for their Customers," said John Guidon, Row 44 CEO. "We couldn't be prouder that they've selected Row 44's high-speed broadband to enhance their Customers' experience yet again with Internet connectivity inflight."
Southwest Airlines is also teaming with Yahoo! to offer an in-flight homepage that includes a one-of-a-kind flight tracker, as well as daily programming of local news and information. The new flight tracker will allow passengers to follow the plane's flight path, and view "fly-over" points of interest along the route, with images from Flickr. The Yahoo!/Southwest homepage will be maintained by Yahoo!, and will include destination-relevant content such as local events, weather and news, as well as destination guides that highlight top restaurants, attractions and shopping.
“For years, Yahoo! has given its users a 30,000 foot view of what's happening in the world, and it's exciting to have an opportunity to do so from 30,000 feet," said Joanne Bradford, senior vice president of revenue and market development, Yahoo! "The Yahoo!-Southwest homepage will give passengers the information they need about what's happening on the ground, before they land, so they can literally make on-the-fly decisions about their trip."