Southwest Airlines, which has always been viewed as a no-frills lowfare carrier, puts just about the final nail in that coffin when it rolls out in-flight on-demand movies and TV shows this week on the 75% of its aircraft that are currently equipped with wi-fi.
Rather than install seatback TV, Southwest has decided to make their inflight entertainment available as streams to passengers’ laptops and tablets. Southwest opted against seatback TVs because they believed they would add too much weight to the aircraft. That seamed like a slightly goofy decision 5 years ago, and seems like a brilliant decision now.
Southwest is no longer the lowest fare provider in many of the markets it serves, it has wi-fi on most of its fleet, it will soon offer a wide array of in-flight entertainment options, and offers ways for passengers to pay to board early. Their AirTran unit offers a business class cabin. That does not sound like my father’s Southwest (I use that figuratively — I’m not sure my father has actually flown Southwest). In fact, Southwest is now, gasp, a full-service provider compared to many of the aircraft flown by so-called full service carriers. My wife flew out to Vegas last week on a United 757 that had no in-flight entertainment, no wi-fi and, of course, no free food. Full service, my butt.
In addition to the on-demand TV shows and movies, Southwest also offers 8 channels of live television. Movies and TV are $5, wi-fi is $8.