Southwest Airlines unveiled a $2 billion enhancement to its customer experience last week.
Southwest Airlines claims the $2 billion will go toward better WiFi, in-seat electricity, larger overhead bins, more entertainment options, and a broader range of beverages. Outside the cabin, it's introducing the Wanna Get Away Plus ticket category and expanding self-service options.
Southwest is upgrading the WiFi on its existing Boeing B737 aircraft using connection partner Anuvu's latest generation technology. The improvement will boost speed and bandwidth tenfold over the existing gear.
The improved WiFi is currently being tested on western US routes, with passengers getting free access. Southwest wants to know how the updated equipment functions when there are a lot of people using the system at the same time.
SVP and chief marketing officer Ryan Green said that, "Top of our list is giving our customers reliable connections in the air to those things that are important and accessible to them on the ground."
Passengers will not have to wait long, with the upgraded equipment being installed on 50 planes by the end of this month. Southwest says a further 350 aircraft will be upgraded by the end of October.
Southwest has 730 aircraft, 449 Boeing B737-700s, 207 Boeing B737-800s and 74 Boeing B737-8 MAX. It has 259 Boeing B737-7 MAX and 142 Boeing B737-8 MAX on order.
Viasat, a satellite communication provider, has agreed to supply the airline with high-speed internet and live television programming onboard. Viasat's service will be delivered on new planes starting later this year.