Southwest Airlines this week said it expects to have
60 of its aircraft outfitted with wireless Internet by year-end as the carrier makes
its way toward a fleetwide rollout of Row 44's satellite-based Wi-Fi system.
senior vice president of marketing and revenue management Dave Ridley in a blog
post on the carrier's website on Wednesday said the carrier already has
outfitted 13 aircraft with Wi-Fi and continues to expand the service on a
"We will have more exciting Wi-Fi announcements coming in the fourth quarter, including
pricing and the unveiling of a newly designed portal that all Wi-Fi customers will be able to access free of
charge," Ridley noted.
Southwest last month
announced it would bring the wireless Internet offering fleetwide next year, expanding
a test it had been undergoing with Row 44. Row 44 last month received a
permanent license from the Federal Communications Commission, opening the door
for expansion, and this week gained $37 million in new equity, some of which came from former Continental Airlines
CEO Larry Kellner, now president of private equity firm the Emerald Creek
"As you may now know, Southwest
bucked the inflight Wi-Fi trend
when it chose Row 44’s satellite solution over the air-to-ground service
selected by several of our competitors," Ridley said. "Choosing this
cutting-edge technology meant a delay in installation but, in doing so, we are
in complete control over the customer experience and able to provide a robust
service at a great value."
In addition to Southwest,
Row 44 also is working with Alaska Airlines on a pilot project. Competitor
AirCell, meanwhile, is working with AirTran Airways, American Airlines, Delta
Air Lines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America.