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Southwest adding inflight entertainment options, increasing prices

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I find myself on a Southwest domestic flight about once every three days so when inflight options change onboard I tend to pick up on them pretty quick.

New Watch a Movie option

Over the course of the past few weeks, Southwest inflight entertainment, served via its satellite internet, has added a new on-demand Watch a Movie option to complement the existing internet use and live streaming TV.

I like the idea of the new Watch a Movie option, however the launch content is not very impressive.  My flight featured recent Hollywood hits such as Jurassic Park (1993) and every points lover’s favorite, Lost in Translation (2003)

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Inflight internet price increases

Every flight I can remember on Southwest equipped with inflight internet has charged a flat 5 dollars for all day use.  That appears to have changed.  Today, for the first time, the price had increased to 8 dollars for all day use.   My assumption is that Southwest is switching to a flight length-based pricing model where longer flights charge higher prices though with only one data point it is possible they are keeping the flat pricing and have just decided to raise it to 8.  For reference, this was a 4 hour flight.

Update:  The Southwest website reveals flat rate pricing with 8 USD per day as the new price.

The price increase does not come with a speed increase

Could the increased price mean they’ve improved bandwidth?! NO.  The inflight internet speed on Southwest planes is woeful.I hate to admit this but on this respect I am jealous of The Weekly Flyer’s beloved Delta.  Southwest inflight internet is so bad that on average I hear about one person per flight asking the flight attendant for their money back.  As a top tier elite on Southwest, the inflight internet is complimentary so I use it every flight but I certainly understand why users ask for refunds.

The bottom line

It is forward thinking to use the inflight internet to stream content to passenger’s own devices as an entertainment hub as opposed to trying to keep up with installing the latest and greatest video technology. However at this point the point is moot as it does not matter what Southwest adds to their entertainment hub until they fix the critical problem of nearly unusable internet speed.

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About the Author

About the author: Alex loves to travel and does so a lot. Logging 100,000 flight miles each year over the past 4 years, Alex uses points and miles to power his passion. Alex is continuously striving to experience the far reaches of the globe. In his day job, Alex is a Management Consultant frequently on the road advising Technology organizations. I love thinking about, reading about, and talking about all things travel. Feel free to reach me at pmmalex@gmail.com

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Stephen February 2, 2013, 12:51 pm

    I was on a two hour flight yesterday and the cost was $8.

  • MJM February 2, 2013, 2:29 pm

    SWA website under Wifi hotpot, says $8 all day per device. So they raised the price for those who pay. What I o not know is if the charge used to be per flight and if the new pricing means you don’t have to pay twice when you do connecting wifi lights or a roundtip in one day.

  • alex February 2, 2013, 5:15 pm

    @Stephen/MJM – You are right. 8 USD is the new flat rate. For reference, the old 5 USD pricing was for the entire day so that has not changed.

  • Randall February 2, 2013, 8:54 pm

    When people complain about the internet speed on LUV flights, do they get a refund?

  • Chris M. February 2, 2013, 10:39 pm

    For some reason, I smiled as I read your sentence that begins, “As a top tier elite on Southwest…”

  • Justin Does... February 3, 2013, 8:06 am

    Southwest’s biggest problem is the speed. It was tolerable on a long flight for $5. But I can’t justify paying more if they are not going to increase the bandwidth.

  • SWA Regular February 11, 2013, 8:45 am

    I’m not sure how they can justify a 60% price increase overnight … with no improvement in service or speed. $5 and slow was painful, $8 and slow is intolerable.

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