Suddenly, Southwest and other airlines to come have a new ancillary revenue source: fees for texting. Southwest is offering its new iMessage fee at an introductory price of $2 per device. Introductory fees tend to be replaced by higher fees at a later juncture.
Southwest became the first U.S. airline to enable passengers to text on their flights from gate to gate.
The initial implementation enables passengers to connect their iPhones to onboard Wi-Fi and use iMessage for texting at an introductory $2 fee. They would have to text to other iMessage users, and the service works on devices using iOS 5 and later.
If passengers want to text and use other onboard Wi-Fi services, which are satellite-based, they pay the standard Southwest Wi-Fi fee of $8 per device.
Android-related texting services will be added in 2014, Southwest says.
The iMessage texting services comes through a Southwest’s ongoing partnership with Global Eagle Entertainment. Its subsidiary, Row 44, provides Southwest with satellite-based Wi-Fi.
The services are available on 435 Southwest aircraft. With satellite-based Wi-Fi, Southwest is currently the only U.S. airline to offer Wi-Fi below 10,000 feet.