Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Southwest Tentatively Testing WiFi

[UPDATE: I'm wrong in the below post, the snark part (of course). Southwest (see appended note from Southwest at end) did prominently state which flights have the WiFi test service.]

Southwest Airlines says today it's testing inflight WiFi service, in an announcement that makes it sound like it has invented the wheel and that this is something that hasn't been fully put in place already by other airlines.

(Sort of like those reporters who keep "discovering" the inflight WiFi story as if some of us hadn't been writing about its evolution for two years.)

Whatever, Southwest says it is testing "aircraft to satellite technology" on a single plane, with three more to join in by early March. Mysteriously, Southwest does not see a need to identify the Wi-Fi enabled aircraft.

Southwest also says it is forming a partnership with Yahoo! to "offer an in-flight homepage with destination-relevant content."

Translation: Advertising.

Says Southwest:

"When Southwest customers board the WiFi enabled aircraft, they will be
greeted with WIFi 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 WiFi-enabled device [sic]
(laptops, iPhones, WiFi-enabled smart phones, etc.). Cellular technology
will not work with the WiFi service. The service is being offered on a trial
basis, and has not yet received final FCC approval."

I do expect Southwest will let us know as soon as they work out the kinks and get this sucker rolling beyond Mystery Aircraft No. 1.

Here's the note from Southwest:

# Paula Berg - Southwest Airlines Says:
February 10th, 2009 at 12:04 pm e

Joe - Indeed we think this is exciting news, as do many of our loyal Customers.

The wi-fi enabled aircraft (N901WN) left Dallas as Flight 1 this morning, from there is will travel the following route:

Flight 20 HOU – DAL – LIT
Flight 860 LIT – LAS – LAX
Flight 159 LAS – BUR – OAK

Flight 1147 OAK – ONT – PHX (departing OAK at 6:45 a.m. PT)
Flight 1791 PHX – SAN – OAK
Flight 291 OAK – SNA – PHX
Flight 209 PHX – OAK
Flight 1442 OAK – PHX

We did identify the aircraft number on our blog in several spots. I’m sorry that you missed it.

Also, just to clairfy for your readers, Southwest Airlines is the first US carrier to test satellite-delivered broadband Internet access on multiple aircraft.

Paula Berg
Southwest Airlines
# joesharkey Says:
February 10th, 2009 at 6:10 pm e

By the way, I know Southwest is the first to test satellite internet delivery. Satellite delivery is, by the way, very promising for flights over oceans.


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