UGA777
Topic Author
Posts: 139
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2001 3:40 am

Wifi On Southwest

Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:50 pm

How many aircraft are equipped so far what is projected completion date for the fleet? It seems to be moving rather slow compared to how long it took Delta and Airtran.
 
bnatraveler
Posts: 304
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2003 10:10 am

RE: Wifi On Southwest

Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:10 pm

I have used both Southwest's (Row 44) and Delta/Airtran/American's (Gogo) service on more than 100 flights on each carrier over the past two years. I am a A-List Preferred flyer on Southwest and a Diamond on Delta; both airlines are great at what they do and I use them for specific purposes.

Southwest's wifi product is horrible and not worth the $5 fee. On a technical basis, their implementation is much too convoluted. Southwest uses Row 44 and they use satellites mounted on the roof of the airplane and they integrate it with traditional HughesNet satellite Internet service. Additionally, they have implemented a WAN link optimization tool to try and get more out of the connection which frankly creates more problems than it solves. On top of all of this, they put an injected banner on every web page to market Southwest, the flight status and the wifi product. My corporate VPN has issues with their service - sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. Speeds are completely unpredictable, service is unreliable (up/down during most flights even in level flight) , applications that operate over port 80 but do not use a web browser such as iTunes, other web apps that don't like frames content, etc. can't deal with the injected banner. Southwest's approach requires substantial changes to the roof of the plane to install a satellite dish and that is probably the reason that their deployment has taken so long.

Delta/Airtran/American's product is awesome and well worth the ~$10 or monthly fee. Gogo uses terrestrial (ground) stations and equipment mounted on the bottom of the plane to deliver their service. Speed is impressive (you can watch Youtube with a pretty similar experience to what I have on my cable modem at home) and reliability is very high. I have had a few spots (west of Minneapolis, near Reno and -in the past- near Atlanta) where service became spotty, but in flying 250k+ elite miles on Delta and lots of random trips on Airtran and American I have maybe had 1-2 mixed experiences. After you authenticate to the Gogo portal (like at a hotel), they don't mess with your session at all except to block apps that they disclose in advance (Netflix, voice services, etc.). Delta/Airtran/American have been able to rapidly roll out this service as it does not make many changes to the airplane or its aerodynamics, and thus I believe that service can be rolled out in two overnight maintenance trips.

Southwest's solution makes you feel like you are making an international long distance call in the 70s/80s, Delta/Airtran/American is like you are on DSL at home.

That all being said, Southwest's choice of satellite is not ground station based and thus it has the potential to be used well offshore and on intercontinental routes. Two issues with this: 1) they don't fly either place and 2) their choice of HughesNet doesn't have coverage despite the technology itself theoretically working. Delta (Gogo) are working on introducing satellite-based service on intercontinental routes in 2013 and we'll have to see if they end up like what I experience with Southwest on a domestic flight given the change in technology. I certainly hope not!
 
ouboy79
Posts: 4114
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2001 1:48 pm

RE: Wifi On Southwest

Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:57 pm

Quoting BNAtraveler (Reply 1):
I am a A-List Preferred flyer on Southwest
Quoting BNAtraveler (Reply 1):
Southwest's wifi product is horrible and not worth the $5 fee.

But you aren't paying the $5 fee since you are A-List Preferred, correct?

Quoting BNAtraveler (Reply 1):
That all being said, Southwest's choice of satellite is not ground station based and thus it has the potential to be used well offshore and on intercontinental routes.

One of the main benefits of the system we are seeing is the satellite based TV that is being added to the product line. That being said satellite internet of course isn't the most optimal, but the reviews from what I've seen have been pretty evenly split.
 
usflyguy
Posts: 1539
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:29 am

RE: Wifi On Southwest

Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:58 pm

You are correct, Row44 will work outside of the lower 48.
My post is my ideas and my opinions only, I do not represent the ideas or opinions of anyone else or company.
 
bnatraveler
Posts: 304
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2003 10:10 am

RE: Wifi On Southwest

Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:18 pm

Quoting ouboy79 (Reply 3):
But you aren't paying the $5 fee since you are A-List Preferred, correct?

Correct. The reason I brought up the status was that I wanted to make the point that my review is informed by lots of travel on all of the airlines stated, use of the wifi and not being a fanboy for one airline or the other. The service is free for A-Pref, but $5 for everyone else.

Quoting ouboy79 (Reply 3):
One of the main benefits of the system we are seeing is the satellite based TV that is being added to the product line. That being said satellite internet of course isn't the most optimal, but the reviews from what I've seen have been pretty evenly split.

As a business traveler, I could care less about satellite TV. I want fast and reliable Internet.

[Edited 2012-08-09 16:19:13]
 
redflyer
Posts: 3882
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2005 3:30 am

RE: Wifi On Southwest

Fri Aug 10, 2012 3:16 am

Quoting BNAtraveler (Reply 1):

Great post. Thanks for explaining why there is a noticeable difference between WN's wi-fi and DL's and other carriers.
My other home is in the sky inside my Piper Cherokee 180.
 
ouboy79
Posts: 4114
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2001 1:48 pm

RE: Wifi On Southwest

Fri Aug 10, 2012 3:26 am

Quoting BNAtraveler (Reply 5):
As a business traveler, I could care less about satellite TV. I want fast and reliable Internet.

Maybe there can be a system in place where Business Select customers get Wi-Fi for free as well. Then ideally use that increased revenue to cover the cost of a faster internet option? Just throwing it out there.
 
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fanoftristars
Posts: 1544
Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2000 9:03 am

RE: Wifi On Southwest

Fri Aug 10, 2012 3:28 am

I'm a monthly subscriber on Gogo and it's far superior to Row44. The connection drops all the time and it's extremely slow. Wouldn't bother purchasing it again. BNAtraveler is spot on!
"FLY DELTA JETS"
 
Beardown91737
Posts: 805
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2011 10:56 pm

RE: Wifi On Southwest

Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:51 am

Quoting BNAtraveler (Reply 1):

I used it earlier this week on a MDW-ONT trip and can't argue with anything BNATraveler said. I did get behind the corporate firewall at work but then lost connection. My bigger problem was being in a center seat between two other adult males and the person in front of me reclined, so I had to put my tray table up and balance the laptop on my lap.

What I did like is that access to southwest.com and Flight Tracker are free, so I connected my smart phone and watched the moving map on it. Obviously since I belong to this site, I am entertained by that kind of stuff.

There is also an option to watch TV for $6, but I didn't try that one.
135 hrs PIC (mostly PA-28) - not current. Landings at MDW, PIA, JAN.