I like Southwest Airlines because they generally provide the product that they advertise, and because their employees don’t seem to hate their jobs. But I don’t want to take them on a longer flight. They’re working on better internet, but for now there’s a real risk that my productivity will drop markedly inflight (like United but in contrast to American or Delta).
They offer more legroom in coach than competitors, but there’s no seat back entertainment and no seat power. The lack of power for your devices is a big deal on connecting itineraries and longer flights, such as Southwest’s service to Hawaii.
Fortunately lack of seat power is something that’s about to begin to change. Southwest is adding seat back USB charging ports to its standard seats, but I’d be surprised to see this on the bulk of their fleet for a long time. Still no standard power ports, but it’s not just phones that can accept USB charging. Many laptops now can, too.
Something’s coming… 👀 pic.twitter.com/dDRh6xxFVm
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) May 11, 2022
Southwest has also selected ViaSat to provide internet for its new delivery aircraft That’s what American Airlines uses, and Delta has moved to. In the meantime they’ve swapped out the hardware from their existing internet provider on 40 of their Boeing 737s to improve internet speeds, and they’ve been testing free wifi on those aircraft. Half of Southwest’s fleet is expected to have the new hardware for faster internet by the end of the year.
Ten years ago I predicted that inflight wifi would be free in 10 years. That’s been true only on a limited basis, perhaps slowed by the pandemic. The other half of my prediction – that always seemed less likely – turned out mostly wrong, that we’d eventually see bag fees eliminated. At least Southwest hasn’t added those!