Air Travel News
Southwest starts testing in-flight live TV
Southwest Airlines will soon join the small but growing number of U.S. airlines that offer live TV programs for passengers.
The company said it has started offering live TV on five of its planes, with plans to add 15 more by the end of July; the system gives passengers the option of purchasing a selection of seven sports and news channels, to be viewed on their personal Wi-Fi-equipped electronic devices.
The airline is rolling out the new in-flight option in conjunction with Row 44, the company that provides Southwest’s satellite-based in-flight Wi-Fi technology.
Flight attendants will notify passengers when they are on a TV-enabled Wi-Fi aircraft, the company said. “Those interested in using the TV service during this preview period will have the opportunity to log on to the service through the Wi-Fi portal via their personal Wi-Fi-enabled device (tablets, laptops, Wi-Fi-enabled smart phones, etc.). Live TV is offered as a separate charge from Wi-Fi, so customers do not have to purchase Wi-Fi to purchase Live TV,” the company said.
Southwest said it will test various price points for the TV service during the testing period, ranging from $3 to $8. The seven channels available include NBC Sports, live baseball games from MLB.com, the NFL Network, CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News, and Fox Business News.
“Customers who are watching TV are accessing a separate portion of the bandwidth specifically dedicated for that use,” Southwest said. “Both live TV and Wi-Fi usage will be monitored to determine if they perform together seamlessly, and if successful, live TV will be available to all Wi-Fi enabled planes by the end of the year.”
Southwest currently offers Row 44’s Wi-Fi system on 250 aircraft, with plans to have it installed on all 737-700s and 737-800s – representing 70 percent of its fleet – by the middle of next year.