Southwest Airlines is working on a new onboard Wi-Fi on 40 jets that will allow passengers and employees to use it for free while it tinkers with the new service. The service will be available for to use on 40 planes, as the airline looks to build up wifi to handle more users, faster speeds and new capabilities.
Dallas News reports that the trial will allow fliers to stream and browse at no cost, just like other complimentary services. VP of Customer Experience Tony Roach told Dallas News, that their goal during this time is to analyze how the new hardware improves performance while maintaining a reliable internet experience.
The airline industry has been looking to upgrade internet service as the industry attempts to entice business customers to return after a fear of flying increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to virtual meetings.
Delta Airlines told The Wall Street Journal that they are looking into using SpaceX's Starlink internet service, as Hawaiian Airlines and Dallas carrier JSX have done the same. Airlines have always had poor and slow internet connection because of the speed that they are flying and the altitude. When a plane load of passengers logs on Wi-Fi, service slows down to a crawl. Southwest have not said what kind of hardware they are upgrading to and have not offered any more details on their plans.
Currently, Southwest charges $8 for inflight internet, while offering wi-fi for free for its "A-List Preferred," customers. The free wi-fi trail runs from May 4 and runs until June 10.