Southwest’s New WiFi Concept…where have I heard this before?

Southwest Airlines is well known for being a low cost carrier, staying a few steps ahead of its competitors and shunning traditional ancillary revenue streams.

While in Dallas yesterday as a guest at Southwest Airlines’ Media Day Southwest Airlines announced a new simplified in-flight internet pricing plan, in conjunction with their service provider Row 44.  The new plan is one price fits all … regardless of device type used or length of flight … and its far lower than any other airline … at a mere US$5 (OK, GoGo Inflight charges US$4.75 for PDA/Mobile Phone internet connectivity on flights of 1.5hrs or less).

As Southwest Airlines continues to install Row 44 inflight broadband connectivity throughout its Boeing 737-7H4 (73G) aircraft, with 60 expected to be equipped by the end of 2010, the airline will be offering options to passengers not interested in paying US$5 for the internet on their flight. These new options will allow Southwest Airlines to drive ancillary revenue streams from passengers, while simultaneously offering passengers a service.

Passengers interested playing games, shopping or viewing content created by the airline for those in flight can engage in this free content on board wifi enabled flights.  The airline has developed relationships with SkyMall and Home Shopping Network to generate revenue for themselves while allowing passengers to shop at will in flight. Other free services within this Next Generation Walled Garden, will allow for live flight tracking, visiting Southwest Airlines’ website and playing a number of games.

… you know … I am pretty sure I have read the above concept somewhere else before? No … from another airline … who could have said it? Oh right … I did!  In an October 9th piece I had written, entitled “Airline Wi-Fi Generation  It Ain’t Rocket Science“,  posted on Flight Global’s Runway Girl Blog, I wrote about the above concepts for airlines to maximize the benefit of inflight internet connections.  A few days after my piece appeared on Flight Global’s site, Row 44 announced their plans to offer airlines using there service … well pretty much what I had detailed.

I think Southwest Airlines has found yet another way to get ahead of their competitors in a way that builds not only short-term gains but also long term loyalty.  The new pricing model is sure to force other airlines to reevaluate not only how their in-flight internet is priced through GoGo In-flight … but also how they are using in-flight internet to drive additional revenue from passengers.

Below are photos I shot of the Row 44 antenna on top of a Southwest Airlines 737-7H4, the new wifi on board decals and the broadband control switch in the cockpit.

Happy Flying!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *