Inflight internet on JetBlue is free. Delta Air Lines has made wifi free as long as you join the free SkyMiles program (this lets them market their credit card to you).
Southwest Airlines, whose bags fly free, is going the opposite direction with internet. In a change expected to be announced on Tuesday, they will be making it more expensive for passengers that have to take more than one flight to reach their destination.
- Currently Southwest charges $8 per day for internet
- They’re switching to $8 per flight for internet
According to an internal Southwest company communication reviewed by View From The Wing,
To support the current and upcoming WiFi enhancements, Southwest is implementing a new internet pricing model. Effective Tuesday, February 21, internet will remain $8 but will be purchased per-leg (being introduced as “Takeoff to Landing”). We will no longer offer an $8 DayPass for internet.
The new per-leg model, entitled $8 Internet
- Supports the introduction of Viasat and allows us to use two vendors without integrating the two payment systems.
- Provides an experience with which Customers are familiar, as most other airlines follow a per-leg internet pricing model.
- Impacts a small subset of Customers due to our robust network of nonstop flights and a small percentage of internet Customers choosing to use paid internet across connecting flights.
As a result passengers who take connecting flights will pay more (at least double) what they do today. And Southwest Airlines connecting flights can be confusing, since they sell ‘through flights’ with a single flight number where you don’t have to leave the aircraft when the plane stops in an intermediate city.
For instance, here are 3 flights between Washington National airport outside of D.C. and San Diego. The first stops in Oklahoma City first, the second stops in Omaha first, and the third stops in Austin. The only cities where you’re stopping are revealed in initial results are in Phoenix, because those involve plane changes. Internet on the first two one-way itineraries will cost $24!
Alaska Airlines charges $8 for functional internet. United Airlines charges $8 for barely-working internet, though they’re finally starting to install ViaSat on their domestic fleet. When they make substantial progress I’ll no longer consider United to be unflyable.
So, to be clear, Southwest’s pricing will remain competitive with Alaska and United. American Airlines has fast internet but charges more than anyone else for a single flight (it can be $10 – $20).
And Southwest Airlines internet is getting better, heading in the direction that other carriers are heading. They’re adding USB seat power, too. On net I’d be happier paying more for good internet than less for internet that doesn’t work or barely functions. In the meantime, though, while they still rolling out ViaSat, you’re paying more for the same internet on most connecting itineraries.
By the way, did you know that WiFi doesn’t actually stand for anything? It’s not an acronym. It was a name developed by marketing consultants at Interbrand.
Now that Delta and JetBlue offer it free, though, the idea of the airline which promotes free checked bags, free changes, and no seat fees charging for it seems a bit backward. But they lost $825 million in their holiday meltdown so every dollar counts!