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Southwest to Offer in-Flight Wi-Fi, Cheap!

by Tom Moccia | November 18, 2010November 18, 2010 2:00 pm PST

I don’t know how much you travel, and I must say I don’t do so extensively, but I do take two or three cross continental trips a year. There are a few things that really get under my skin while flying: delays, middle seats, pseudo security, over priced airport snacks and in-flight boredom. Over the last few years airlines have been implementing in-flight Wi-Fi which is the best thing since sliced bread.

My last cross continental flight was last year flying from San Francisco to New York on Virgin America Airlines. To my delight I was able to purchase Wi-Fi service from Aircell, aka GoGo, for a mere $12.95 and after debating for about 10 minutes on whether I wanted to drop the cash, I happily paid the fee. In fact the pricing structure took me 10 minutes to figure out. Here is the breakdown for GoGo service: $7.95 for smart phone connectivity on flights of any length, other devices are $4.95 for flights 1.5 hours or less, $9.95 for flights between 1.5 and 3 hours, $12.95 for flights exceeding 3 hours, and $34.95 for auto-renewing monthly unlimited plan.

southwestmedia3The ability to get work done and relieve some boredom was well worth the money. I can see how frequent travelers and non-techies would be a bit put off at the $12.95 fee and forgo the in-flight Wi-Fi experience. This is evident by the fact that less than ten percent of air travelers are willing to pay for Wi-Fi at its current pricing.

Well, have no fear, the light hearted Southwest Airlines is coming to the rescue! Southwest has been conducting trial service studies with a company called Row 44 and has 32 of their 346 planes wired for service, and plans to have all planes wired by the end of 2012. The pricing strategy that Southwest plans to implemented is much more simple, $5 for Wi-Fi access on flights of any length. And considering a bottle of Pepsi in the airport is upwards of $3.50, I consider this a bargain.

Tell me your thoughts on the evolution of in-flight Wi-Fi and if you are more apt to pay a flat $5 rather than the $12.95 GoGo is charging.

Tom Moccia

Tom Moccia is a native of Stamford, Connecticut and moved his family west in 2000 and now calls Stockton, California home with his wife and two...