The FAA made smartphone users leap for joy earlier this month when they announced that electronic devices could – after years of flight attendants' finger-wagging – be used below 10,000 feet. Now, Southwest is taking things a step further with the launch of gate-to-gate Wifi aboard all flights.
For those who have flown Southwest before and used Wifi onboard, this may seem like non-news. Indeed, it was all the way back in 2010 that Southwest first launched its in-flight Wifi program. But the distinguishing phrase here is "gate-to-gate." This new service means Wifi for the entire flight – from the minute you sit down to the minute you disembark, you'll have full access to email, social media, news blogs, and whatever else it is you do on the internet while traveling.
The cost of the service? $8 per device for an entire day of Wifi, including all layovers and connections. This is 40 percent cheaper than the all-day rate for Gogo, which provides in-flight Wifi service to nearly every other US airline (AirTran, American Airlines, Delta, United, US Airways, and Virgin America), though still doesn't permit users to access Wifi until the plane has reached 10,000 feet (hence, no "gate-to-gate").
And what about that other American low-cost carrier, JetBlue? For now, JetBlue is promising to debut "the airline industry's first inflight broadband service" sometime this fall. The service, which is provided by a company called ViaSat has been in the works for a while, though no word on how much the Wifi will actually cost (guessing it won't be free!). But considering JetBlue was literally the first airline to jump on board the FAA's ban lift earlier this month, it's likely that JetBlue's inflight Wifi, when it does debut, will also be gate-to-gate.