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Southwest CEO: We Won’t Permit In-Flight Phone Calls

@denschaal

Dec 12, 2013 2:51 pm

Skift Take

If the FCC approves in-flight phone calls, then at least U.S. airlines will be able to determine for themselves what the policy should be.

— Dennis Schaal

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Mike Theiler  / Reuters

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly speaks at Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit. Mike Theiler / Reuters


You can count Southwest Airlines among the U.S. airlines that won’t be allowing phone calls in the cabin if the Federal Communications Commission gives the go-ahead for airlines to do so.

Speaking at a Wings Club luncheon in Manhattan this after, Gary Kelly, the Southwest CEO and chairman, said 60% of customers in the airline’s surveys “totally oppose” in-flight phone calls. Kelly said he personally is against them, as well.

Although “things change,” Kelly said, “I don’t see it happening.”

Passengers don’t need to make phone calls in the cabin because they can communicate via text and email using Wi-Fi, Kelly said.

Southwest announced yesterday that it is the first U.S. airline to allow gate-to-gate messaging, via iMessage,, and it is the first to open Wi-Fi below 10,000 feet because its Row 44 Wi-Fi is satellite-based and has that capability.

Bags Fly Free

On other hot-button issues, Kelly hinted that there will be no near-term changes in the airline’s first two Bags Fly Free policy.

Kelly said Southwest studies the economics of various fees “very carefully,” and has found that the airline attracts more money and customers by “not nickel and diming our customers, and that is the plan going forward.”

“It is interesting to me how interested people are in the topic,” Kelly said.

Long-Haul Tyranny

Meanwhile, with the Wright Amendment expiring next year, Kelly said Southwest will launch service from Dallas Love Field to LaGuardia. Details of next year’s schedules will be announced during the first quarter.

“Long haul out of Dallas has long suffered from high fares, and I assure you they will be freed from that tyranny,” Kelly said.

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