Thursday, October 28, 2010

Southwest Introductory In-Flight WiFi Price: $5 (Cheap)

Southwest Airlines announced today a $5 flat rate per flight for any device for its coming WiFi HOTSPOT service, which will be provided by the satellite-based Row 44 system.

Southwest, which began testing WiFi service last year on four planes, now has 32 planes enabled with Row 44 WiFi. All of Southwest's fleet, consisting of about 550 Boeing 737s, will be WiFi enabled next year.

The price announced today undercuts the standard price points for the competing Aircell Gogo WiFi service on the roughly 1,000 aircraft that now have that system -- although Gogo is often available at a steep discount through various airline and third-party promotions. The Gogo system uses land-based antennas rather than satellites.

"Southwest tested a number of different pricing points throughout this process and is pleased that we will offer one low fee for this service, making it easy for customers to know what to expect," said Dave Ridley, Southwest's Vice President for marketing and revenue management.

Here's Ridley's blog post today on the announcement.

Customers on a WiFi-enabled aircraft will see WiFi HOTSPOT placards. When opening the Southwest Airlines WiFi HOTSPOT browser, customers will be taken to a home page that has free content, which includes a flight tracker, games, shopping on Skymall and Home Shopping Network.

Down the road, it isn't clear yet whether Southwest will operate two competing systems on its combined fleet once it completes its merger with AirTran, which was one of the early adopters of the Gogo system.


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