Southwest Upgrade Planes with Faster Wi-Fi, Larger Top Bins

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Southwest Airlines said it would spend more than $2 billion to improve passenger amenities, such as larger overhead lockers, faster internet and power outlets “in every seat”, in a bid to appeal to travelers as bookings rebound.

The airline also plans to double the number of movies it offers travelers and update its onboard drink options to include a Bloody Mary mix, ready-to-drink cocktails, hard seltzer and rosé wine.

The changes come as airlines prepare for a resumption of leisure and business travel after more than two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

United Airlines, for example, last year announced a host of cabin upgrades like new seatback screens and entertainment systems. It also prepares cabins for larger top bins. Delta Air Lines is installing new seats for domestic first class and said it aims to offer free internet in the future. And Hawaiian Airlines plans to offer free Wi-Fi through SpaceX’s Starlink service starting next year.

Southwest’s $2 billion investment will span five years and is part of an estimated capital expenditure of $3.5 billion a year on average through 2026, as announced in December. The changes are aimed at all customers, but Southwest has recently stepped up its efforts to sell to business travelers.

The airline announced a new second-cheapest fare option in March for travelers willing to pay more for more flexibility. Last week, he told staff he would temporarily offer travelers free Wi-Fi on select flights as he tests new hardware aimed at bringing faster speeds to more passengers, CNBC reported.

The carrier also said it recently struck a deal with satellite internet provider Viasat for in-flight connectivity starting this fall, starting with new deliveries of 737 Max aircraft. Southwest offers internet for $8 a day and currently has no plans to make access free beyond hardware testing.

Southwest, which has a fleet of more than 700 Boeing 737s, estimates it will have in-seat power, which it does not currently offer, on about 250 aircraft by the end of 2023. sockets will be available from the beginning of next year. on Max aircraft and have both USB A and USB C power ports.

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