Transport Airlines

Southwest is the First Airline to Announce Gate-to-Gate Wi-Fi

@SamShankman

Nov 20, 2013 11:31 am

Skift Take

Gogo’s reputation as the top in-flight wi-fi provider just received a serious setback. Satellite-based Wi-Fi will soon be the only accepted service as airlines work to compete for the best in-flight service.

— Samantha Shankman

Report: Social Media Customer Service in the Travel Industry

Aero Icarus  / Flickr

A Southwest Airlines plane takes off from Los Angeles International Airport. Aero Icarus / Flickr


Southwest Airlines announced today that passengers can access in-flight Wi-Fi during all phases of flight. The carrier is also the last major U.S. carrier to confirm today that flyers can use their mobile devices during takeoff and landing.

The news means that business travelers can start answering emails, uninterrupted, from the moment they sit down. Bulky laptops and devices larger than a tablet must still be stowed during taxi, takeoff, and landing. And mobile devices must be kept in “airplane mode” throughout the flight.

Southwest can permit Wi-Fi use below 10,000 feet thanks to service provider Row44, which uses satellite-based Wi-Fi that is capable of working on the ground.

In-flight Wi-Fi on the majority of U.S. airlines, including American, United, and Delta, is powered by Gogo and currently engineered to start working at 10,000 feet.

Gogo spokesperson Steve Nolan recently said that Gogo’s 10,000-feet limitations won’t be changing anytime soon.

United is transitioning to satellite-based Wi-Fi on international flights and JetBlue is expected to start installing satellite-based Wi-Fi within a few weeks so these two airlines could potentially join Southwest with gate-to-gate Wi-Fi capabilities.

The news comes almost one month after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration confirmed it would allow the use of electronic devices at all stages of flight. Airlines had to test their aircraft to ensure there was no interference. JetBlue and Delta were the first to announce gate-to-gate device use.

Southwest customers pays $8 per device for all day use, including stops and connections.

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