Southwest puts $5 price tag on in-flight Wi-Fi
Southwest Airlines will charge $5 to access in-flight wireless Internet on the 32 planes enabled with the service, the airline announced Thursday.
The price will remain the same regardless of the length of the flight or the device used to get on the Internet, the airline said.
The Southwest price is generally lower than the fee charged by most domestic airlines -- between $5.95 and $12.95 depending on the length of the flight.
The price has been the subject of some debate at Southwest, which has promoted itself heavily on television and in print ads for charging nothing to check the first two bags per passenger.
Southwest described the $5 charge as an introductory price that will stay in place at least until Wi-Fi is added to all 346 planes in the airline's fleet of 737-700s by the end of 2012. The airline hopes to offer Wi-Fi on at least 60 planes by the end of this year.
"So the price will stay the same at least for two years," said Southwest spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger.
The satellite-based service is provided by Westlake Village-based Row 44. Passengers will be notified if their plane has Wi-Fi service by an on-board placard. Passengers will also get an e-mail before boarding the plane, notifying them if Wi-Fi is offered on that flight.
For now, passengers can only pay for the service with a credit card once they log onto the airline's homepage on the plane.
-- Hugo Martin
Image credit: Southwest Airlines