Posted: April 18, 2014, 4:42 p.m.
by Stefanie Dunlap.
Upon boarding my recent Southwest flight from William P. Hobby Airport in Houston to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, I followed the usual, mundane airport routine. I took off my shoes and placed everything in one of those discolored, gray bins and slowly got through security. I promptly gathered my belongings, put my shoes back on and checked my gate number on one of the monitors.
I strolled to gate 50, passing several restaurants and shops, and finally sat down in a less than comfortable, black leather chair. I looked up at the Southwest employee behind her desk and realized my flight had been delayed. I then got out my headphones and got comfortable, knowing that I would be there for a while.
Several songs later, boarding group A began to board, and I waited for my turn to get on the plane. After getting situated in my seat, the flight attendants began to go over the safety features.
Soon the flight attendants began to tell the passengers about Southwest’s new features. I reluctantly removed my headphones just to make sure nothing important was being said. The flight attendant explained that Southwest now offers TV, text messaging and WiFi on all flights with WiFi capabilities.
Shocked, I thought back to all the times that I was told repeatedly to “turn off any electronic device” before the flight took off. Never did I think texting on a plane would be possible.
After some research, I discovered that Southwest Airlines has partnered with DISH to allow passengers to live stream 13 channels and also watch several episodes of various TV shows for free.
In addition, for a small fee of $2, passengers are able to send text messages through iMessage, Whatsapp and GroupMe, with messaging for Android users coming soon.
Now, passengers are also offered WiFi access for $8. Southwest’s hotspot will allow you to access things such as email, social media apps and Web browsers, but it limits usage of high bandwidth applications such as Netflix.
In addition to WiFi and texting, Southwest provides a variety of movies for $5 each. All a passenger has to do is turn airplane mode on (on their device) and then connect to the Southwest hotspot. When you open your Web browser, you will be directed to a page with all your options on it. For free TV, all you have to do is provide an email address (expect to receive promotional emails from DISH).
This partnership is beneficial for both Southwest and DISH. Currently, Southwest is the only airline that offers some of these amenities, which may bring in more customers who want to enjoy these new additions. Also, DISH requires an email address for those who want to watch free TV during the flights. This allows DISH to send out promotional emails to more potential customers.
So next time you fly Southwest, check to see if your flight has WiFi and enjoy your technology-enhanced flight!