Live from 40,000+ feet: Southwest Airlines WiFi


Now, there’s no excuse for your work to be late

My flight tonight is a special wi-fi equipped Southwest Airlines jet with free wi-fi on-board. This post is hitting the ZDNet mother server via this aircraft as we cross over Colorado.

How’s it working? Pretty good!


To be honest, my expectations weren’t very high. I remember earlier air-borne technologies that never performed well and cost a fortune. Anyone ever do a phone call on one of those in-flight phones? I did once and quit. I couldn’t hear anything and I had to almost scream to be heard.

For SWA’s wi-fi, I’ve already checked email and surfed the web. I’ll be hitting the send button on this post in a minute. Hey, even the ads ZDNet places on my blog are loaded and their animation is working! Not bad….

Well, I’ve got some client work to finish. My review of this technology:

– It’s not blazing fast but definitely a viable answer to sending and receiving email.
– I’m not sure you’ll want to watch streaming video over this or fire off a 10 mb email attachment
– Would I use again? Absolutely.

*************** UPDATE *********************
The service works so well, I’m even getting most critical emails. In the last few minutes, I’ve apparently won a foreign lottery and might collect millions from someone’s estate in Nigeria. Wow!

Sadly, I also got a few work emails, too.

I can think of two things SWA could do to make the experience even more complete:

– don’t let seat backs recline. I can’t surf the net when someone’s cranked their seat back and the only view I have is of their dandruff and not my laptop screen.
– put those power sockets under the seats like American Airlines does


by Brian Sommer


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