Travelers on Southwest Airlines should see an improvement in Wi-Fi capabilities in the months ahead.
The airline said it has signed new connectivity agreements with Panasonic Avionics and Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE) to enhance the in-flight experience for customers across its fleet.
“Both of the agreements support Southwest’s focus on yielding greater Wi-Fi bandwidth available to Customers on Wi-Fi-equipped aircraft,” Southwest said.
The agreement with Global Eagle extends the airline’s current use of that vendor’s Airconnect connectivity system, and the deal with Panasonic will provide that firm’s Wi-Fi and live TV products on a portion of the Southwest fleet.
“Southwest’s agreements with Panasonic and GEE align with next year’s planned retirement of the carrier’s non-Wi-Fi-equipped 737-300 Classic aircraft and the introduction of the new Boeing 737-8 (MAX),” a spokesman said. “By the end of 2017, Southwest Airlines is targeting to operate a 100 percent Wi-Fi-equipped fleet of more than 700 aircraft.”
By the middle of next year, Southwest said, passengers should be able to surf the Internet faster due to a Wi-Fi bandwidth increase of at least three times the current levels. That bandwidth will increase even more over the following 12 months.
“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,” the company said. It added that it expects to continue offering live TV at no cost to customers, and maintaining an $8 fee per day per device for Wi-Fi connectivity.