Posted on: 08 April 2014 by Mark Howells
Since the introduction of the ability to use connectivity from gate-to-gate, 25% of all data consumption through Southwest Airlines’ Row 44 service has been on the ground, reported Simon McLellan, vice-president of engineering with Row 44 parent company Global Eagle Entertainment at the Passenger Experience Conference alongside Aircraft Interiors 2014 in Hamburg.
In a joint presentation with Angela Vargo, manager of product development, Southwest Airlines, McLellan observed, “People are using the connectivity on shorter flights. Before, when passengers had to wait until they were high enough in the air, many thought it wasn’t even worth getting their PED (personal electronic device) out, but now that they can use it on the ground, passengers think it’s worthwhile and are really taking advantage.”
The partners also noted that they had seen an increase in session length of 30%. “And we now have more than 50% of aircraft online at any one time,” Vargo reported. “Of our 445 aircraft, two-thirds are fitted with the Ku-band product.”
McLellan interjected to emphasise that passengers should still check if the aircraft they are flying on is WiFi-equipped. “The passenger can sometimes pick up the aeroplane’s WiFi from the gate. However, we have had people log on and then purchase a session but once they’ve got on the aircraft they’ve discovered it’s not equipped and that they logged on to the aircraft next to theirs at the gate,” he related.
“What we have learned though is that if you build it, they will come,” Vargo concluded.
Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net