SWA plans 60-plus Wi-Fi aircraft by year’s end

Southwest Airlines has equipped 13 aircraft for passenger Wi-Fi service using Row 44’s satellite-based system and plans to have more than 60 equipped to provide the service by the end of this year.

"Today, we are pleased to announce that we are officially in the process of installing WiFi on our fleet," writes Dave Ridley, senior vice president marketing and revenue management, on the airline’s blog, Nuts about Southwest.

"As you may now know," he explains, "Southwest bucked the in-flight WiFi trend when it chose Row 44’s satellite solution over the air-to-ground service selected by several of our competitors. Choosing this cutting-edge technology meant a delay in installation but, in doing so, we are in complete control over the customer experience and able to provide a robust service at a great value.

So far, Ridley writes, "we have 13 activated aircraft and we are adding more aircraft every week. By the end of this year, we plan to have more than 60 Wi-Fi planes crisscrossing the Southwest system."

SWA expects to announce prices for the service during the fourth quarter of the year, as well as unveiling a newly designed portal that all Wi-Fi customers will be able to access free of charge.

Photo shows the radome for the AeroSat HR6400 Ku-band satellite communications antenna, part of the Row 44 airborne broadband system, on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737.

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