Southwest Airlines lagged behind its competitors in adopting the FAA's relaxed rules on using gadgets during all phases of flight, but it finally implemented the new guidelines yesterday. And it says the delay was "worth the wait" because it's adding something extra: in-flight Wi-Fi from gate to gate. Southwest says it's the only US airline currently offering access to wireless internet for the entire duration of a flight, including when a plane is resting on the tarmac for takeoff, stops, and transfers.
This is possible, Southwest says, because of the satellite technology it uses to provide Wi-Fi. Southwest can enable Wi-Fi on the ground, whereas Gogo's popular service (used by American, Delta, Virgin, and others) is powered by air-to-ground towers and normally only available once a plane reaches 10,000 feet. Southwest also groups United in that bunch, but United's Wi-Fi is provided by satellites. So Southwest may eventually face competition from at least one competing airline. Nonetheless, the company (thankfully) isn't hiking costs for the expanded internet access: Southwest's Wi-Fi still demands the same $8-per-device fee.