If you're too cheap to shell out $8 for a daily Wi-Fi pass on Southwest Airlines, but still want to text away on your iOS device, there's a new option. For $2 a day, the airliner is offering a pass that lets you use iMessage on one Apple device, both at the gate and on-board. Southwest says it plans to offer a similar service for Android users early next year, though has not given specifics about which apps will work.

Coming to Android users next year

The service goes live today and requires iOS 5 or later, something that makes sense given that iMessage didn't arrive until that operating system update. Its utility may be short-lived, however, given recent efforts to allow full phone use for the duration of flights. In Southwest's case, the airliner's connecting to a satellite data network through Row 44, a subsidy of Global Eagle Entertainment, which means the company can serve data even when the plane is on the ground.

It's not the first time Apple devices have received special treatment from the airliner. Back in October, Southwest partnered with Dish to launch a program that would dole out iPad 2s to passengers to watch in-flight TV programming. The two companies launched that TV service in July, which also gave out free iPad 2s to new Dish customers who signed up for its Hopper ad-skipping package.