Southwest Airlines Wi-Fi now operational on more than three-quarters of its planes

Skift Take

Southwest is hell-bent on launching some international service in the coming years, and satellite-based Wi-Fi will take it a long way toward that goal.

— Dennis Schaal

Southwest Airlines says 400 of its aircraft now have satellite-based Wi-Fi installed, along with live TV entertainment, all from provider Row 44.

The development should put Southwest in good shape as it moves progressively toward adding more over-water flights.

Southwest acquired AirTran in 2011, and the two brands combined had about 694 aircraft at the end of 2012. Roughly 540 of those are from the legacy Southwest brand.

This means Southwest has Row 44 Wi-Fi installed on about 75% of its Southwest-branded aircraft.

AirTran uses Gogo for its Wi-Fi, and Southwest spokesperson Katie McDonald says when an aircraft transfers to Southwest, it is slated to get the Row 44 service installed, although that process is not believed to be under way yet.

“Southwest was the first U.S. carrier to test satellite-delivered broadband Internet access on multiple aircraft,” says Dave Ridley, Southwest’s chief marketing officer. “We have found the strength of satellite service has allowed us to deliver very high bandwidth for Internet users and provide our inflight entertainment via the addition of live television.”

The Row 44 Wi-Fi connectivity on Southwest’s planes includes shopping options, destination services, a real-time flight map, as well as live TV with nine sports and news channels.

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