If the thought of not only switching off your phone, but also having no connectivity at all before, during and after a flight fills you with dread, then you may want to consider flying solely with Southwest Airlines from now on. The airline is all set to announce what it calls gate-to-gate Wi-Fi, according to a report by AllThingsD.com, allowing it passengers to keep using their phones at all times.
This is made possible thanks to Southwest’s use of a satellite-based Internet system, which is different to the more common air-to-ground system offered by Gogo. As its name suggests, Gogo’s Internet activates in the air, while Southwest’s satellite option nearly avoids this restriction.
Southwest’s choice of satellite communication is rapidly becoming a popular option for airlines, as it’s also set to be adopted in Europe, where rules are currently being laid down about in-flight Wi-Fi and gadget use, prior to an official announcement at the end of the month. It’s going to be expensive to use though, and a pricing structure for Southwest has yet to become public.
Gogo isn’t going to take all this laying down, and has recently discussed plans to introduce Text & Talk, which goes beyond providing a data connection, by giving chatterbox passengers the chance to make calls and send SMS messages. The service isn’t expected to come online until early next year, and will cost extra on top of its existing Wi-Fi subscription charge.
The sudden rush for airlines to offer in-flight Wi-Fi, calls, and the chance to use electronic devices during take-off and landing, is all thanks to the FAA’s late October decision to lift its strict restrictions.