Southwest WiFi on all planes in 2017

Next Phase of the Heart Brand
Image courtesy of Southwest Airlines.
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I’m a big fan of Southwest Airlines.  I favor their boarding process over the other airlines.  They have very economical and competitive fares.  And the Companion Pass is the best airline benefit around.  Unfortunately, Southwest WiFi service isn’t available on all planes, and the speeds can be slow on the planes that do have it.  That’s all going to change in 2017 when Southwest installs wifi on every plane!


Southwest WiFi Service

Southwest began offering WiFi on their planes a couple years ago.  And they were the first airline to allow you to keep your devices on from gate to gate in 2013.

If you want to access the Southwest WiFi service, there are a couple of options for you.

Southwest WiFi In-Flight Entertainment

Free Inflight Entertainment

On equipped aircraft, there is free live and on-demand television.  There are limited choices, but it’s hard to argue with free entertainment.  I’ve watched playoff baseball and football during flights, while Timmy and Scarlett watch plenty of cartoons when they’re not reading or coloring.  Please note that due to licensing regulations, free live TV may not be available onboard WiFi-enabled international flights.

Movies are also available to rent for $5 each.  On occasion, Southwest will mail me a coupon for a free movie.  Have you received any of these?

Internet Access

Southwest WiFi provides internet access, albeit at speeds below what you’re used to at home.  There is an $8 fee for access to e-mail, social networks, browsing, and VPN access.  Because there is limited capacity, Southwest WiFi limits access to certain high bandwidth applications and websites, including Netflix, HBO Go, and VoIP.

Until Southwest WiFi is available on every plane, click here to enter your flight information to determine if your upcoming flight offers Southwest WiFi.


Southwest WiFi on ALL 700+ Planes

Southwest is expanding their partnerships with Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) and Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE) to enhance the WiFi on existing planes and add WiFi to all new planes.  I didn’t realize this, but there is a planned retirement of Southwest’s non-WiFi-equipped 737-300 Classic aircraft.  Southwest will be introducing the new Boeing 737-8 (MAX) to their stable of planes.  According to the Southwest press release, “By the end of 2017, Southwest Airlines is targeting to operate a 100 percent WiFi-equipped fleet of more than 700 aircraft.

The press release goes on to say:

In mid-2017, Customers will be able to browse the Internet at increased speeds as a result of an expected bandwidth increase of at least three times more than what they currently experience, with an additional expected bandwidth increase in mid-2018. Connectivity speeds are expected to increase, and Southwest plans to develop relationships with content providers to bring even more exclusive content to its Customers while on flights.

It’s awesome that internet speeds will at least triple in the short-term and will increase ever more in 2018!


How to get Southwest WiFi for FREE

Although $8 isn’t that big of a deal one time, if you’re flying Southwest frequently, that $8 a day fee can add up pretty quickly.  If you earn enough Southwest Rapid Reward points (or take enough flights) to become A-List Preferred, you get Southwest WiFi for free.   In order to earn Southwest A-List Preferred Status, you would need to fly 50 one-way (or 25 round-trip) flights or earn 70,000 Tier Qualifying Points in a calendar year.At 12 Rapid Reward points per $1 of Southwest Business Select Fares, you would need to spend over $5,800.

At 12 Rapid Reward points per $1 of Southwest Business Select Fares, you would need to spend over $5,800.  This large dollar amount of spend is one of the reasons why I question whether A-List status is worth the money.

Sadly, point transfers from hotels or bank point programs do not count as Tier Qualifying Points.  And spend on the Southwest credit card don’t count either.

Southwest A-List Preferred status


The Bald Thoughts

I love that Southwest WiFi will soon be available on the entire fleet of aircraft.  Even if I don’t purchase the Southwest WiFi service, being able to watch live television to catch a game or entertainment my kids with some cartoons would be awesome.  I’m glad that Southwest continues to step up their game and add value to their in-flight experience.

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