Southwest adds gate-to-gate Wi-Fi messaging service

Southwest Airlines (Southwest) in partnership with in-flight entertainment and connectivity specialist, Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. (Global Eagle), has introduced a messaging service designed to work in all stages of flight.

The new service enables passengers with Apple devices operating on iOS 5 or later the ability to iMessage gate-to-gate for the introductory price of $2 per day. Android-friendly messaging apps are planned to be added early in 2014.

Currently available on 435 aircraft, Southwest claims to be the only U.S. carrier to offer Wi-Fi below 10,000 feet. Passengers now have the opportunity to choose the in-flight connectivity services that meet their needs, from free TV courtesy of DISH, to Wi-Fi gate-to-gate, to messaging.

“Our messaging service breaks new ground, and embraces the changing face of communication, one where texting has already surpassed voice calls as the preferred method of phone use among young adults, and continues to grow,” commented John LaValle, Chief Executive Officer of Global Eagle Entertainment.

Once onboard, passengers can switch their phones to “airplane mode” and connect to the Southwest Wi-Fi network. From the Wi-Fi portal homepage, Apple users with devices operating iOS 5 or later can select “Messaging” from the “Connect” tab and pay $2 for all day texting with other iMessage users on Wi-Fi-enabled planes.

For passengers that prefer to do more, Wi-Fi is still available gate-to-gate for $8 all day per device and texting is included in that purchase automatically.

“Our partnership with Global Eagle has afforded us the opportunity to be first with the services we offer, and has truly helped to differentiate Southwest Airlines in ways that are meaningful to our customers,” said Kevin Krone, Southwest Airlines’ Chief Marketing Officer.

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