Jun 10 2011

Southwest Inflight WiFi Review

As I write this, I am hurtling through the air at 600ish miles per hour on my way to the Denver airport on a reasonably new 737 in Southwest’s fleet.

Fresh and clean and wait! What is this? I am on a plane that SWA is rolling out WiFi Service on! How lucky am I?

For someone with my level of “connectedness addiction” (referred to as CA from now on!) a 2+ hour flight is a twitchy, uncomfortable experience. Preparation H is not the cure for my disease but paid WiFi seems like a better deal than headaches, cold sweats and uncontrollable shaking.

Introductory pricing is $5, which seemed pretty reasonable, so I pulled my credit card out of my wallet.

My expectations for the service were pretty modest. I expected dial up level kind of speeds and an asynchronous connection. Once I got logged on and cleared my email I ran a Speedtest.


Holy bandwidth Batman! I was right about the asynchronous part but way wrong on the long leg. 20 Mbps of upload! Obviously, they are throttling the download and I have no idea how many other people were on but 1Mbps seemed like a pretty reasonable download speed to me.

There are some stipulations of course. They block VOIP traffic but my AIM chat client worked well and web based services like Twitter via Hootsuite on the iPad worked perfectly. I was able to log on to my Skype account and send text messages from there.

Youtube? In a word…meh. 2:37 clip stopped 3 times to buffer. Don’t plan on streaming a lot of video.

Even if you don’t pay for service, there are some limited places you can go within their portal including shopping on Skymall and HSN, some online games that are still to be implemented, flight tracking and full access to the Southwest site. You could even book your next flight or the rental car you forgot to reserve.

On the whole though, I was pleased with the service. No interruptions, I got to triage my email before I got to the end of my day and 20Mbps of upload speed is better than I have at home!

Although I suspect it won’t remain at $5 for long, that price makes the service a complete no-brainer.

This might even get me to forgive Southwest for my previous debacle with them!


  1. Chris Bednar

    Really? Did it HAVE to be 40 times faster than my time Warner service at my house that I pay $60 for? I am going to save all my upload for my flight on Tuesday!

  2. Jeff Mac

    I was pretty stunned to! Wanna bet it doesn’t stay that way for long?

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