Woot: Southwest Airlines Finally Adding In-Seat Power

Woot: Southwest Airlines Finally Adding In-Seat Power

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Southwest Airlines has today outlined a $2 billion investment in the passenger experience, which I’m sure many will appreciate.

Southwest introducing power at every seat

Southwest Airlines has announced plans to install USB power outlets at every seat on select aircraft. Specifically, Boeing 737 MAX jets will have both USB-A and USB-C outlets. Sadly there are no plans to install AC power outlets.

Unfortunately the timeline here is really slow — the first newly delivered jet will feature power in early 2023, and the plan is for around 250 Boeing 737 MAXs to feature power by the end of 2023. There are no plans to retrofit the classic (non-MAX) Boeing 737 fleet.

I’m thrilled to see this, and I’ve always found Southwest’s decision to not have in-seat power to be bizarre. It’s one thing if it were 2012, but it’s now 2022, and airlines have come a long way:

  • Southwest operates some long flights that are well over five hours (including transcon flights and flights to Hawaii)
  • While Southwest focuses heavily on its core value proposition, it’s not an ultra low cost carrier; it’s odd to have no change fees, few ancillary fees, and even allow two free checked bags, all while not offering in-seat power
  • Up until now Southwest hasn’t offered in-seat power or personal televisions but has offered Wi-Fi, so if you want passengers to stay entertained, it makes sense to at least let them charge their electronics
  • It’s especially odd since Southwest has actively been taking delivery of new planes, so the decision to take delivery of planes in 2022 without power seems short-sighted; did the airline think that power outlets were a fad that was going to disappear?

Of course there’s a cost to installing power at seats, but surely it’s negligible, since even American is doing it. And while this is better than nothing, I do wish the airline were also installing AC power outlets.

Southwest Airlines is finally introducing power outlets

Southwest improving inflight Wi-Fi

Not only is Southwest introducing power ports at every seat, but the airline is also investing in its inflight Wi-Fi offering. Southwest is upgrading Wi-Fi on its existing fleet with longstanding connectivity provider Anuvu’s latest-generation hardware, capable of providing a significant improvement in speed and bandwidth up to 10x what’s currently available.

Plans are for this latest generation Wi-Fi to be available on 50 aircraft by the end of May 2022, with a projected 350 aircraft upgraded by October 2022, so that’s pretty exciting.

Testing for the upgraded Wi-Fi equipment is now underway on some routes over the western mainland US. As part of this test, Southwest is offering free Wi-Fi to all customers on select flights to understand how the upgraded equipment performs with a large number of users. It sounds like Southwest is probably trying to head the direction of other airlines by eventually offering free Wi-Fi for all.

On top of that, Southwest will be working with Viasat to provide high-speed Wi-Fi and live entertainment on newly delivered aircraft starting in the fall of 2022.

Southwest is upgrading its inflight Wi-Fi

Bottom line

Southwest Airlines is investing in its passenger experience. Most significant is that the airline will finally be introducing USB power outlets at every seat, starting in early 2023. Southwest definitely has a lot of catching up to do there, and unfortunately not all planes will be retrofitted with this feature.

On top of that, Southwest is also upgrading its Wi-Fi offering on both new and existing aircraft. That’s something that should happen much faster, with roughly half of the fleet featuring upgraded Wi-Fi by this fall.

What do you make of Southwest adding power outlets and improving Wi-Fi?

Conversations (12)
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  1. Michael Guest

    @skyward I don't believe there malicious intent with the select fleet statement. There are always planes that are destined for removal from the fleet, or restricted by lessor terms. When Southwest was rolling out wifi originally in the late 2000's they were very good about notifications to fliers as to what they would be encountering on their travels as the rollout started and was limited to planes they could update.

    What Southwest does to...

    @skyward I don't believe there malicious intent with the select fleet statement. There are always planes that are destined for removal from the fleet, or restricted by lessor terms. When Southwest was rolling out wifi originally in the late 2000's they were very good about notifications to fliers as to what they would be encountering on their travels as the rollout started and was limited to planes they could update.

    What Southwest does to upset me as a consumer is not make prices available on Google Flights for comparison, and when I do bother to price check them, come in higher. I used to be a Southwest loyalist but haven't been A-List or Companion Pass in 10 years.

  2. Alex Guest

    They’re also adding space bins which you didn’t mention

  3. Skyward Geek Member

    Southwest is going to piss off a lot of customers by the misleading webpage they put up.
    Nothing about 'select fleet." It makes people feel like all Southwest flights will have USB ports and faster wi-fi when it's not true.

    https://www.southwest.com/experience/#enhanced-experience

  4. Andrew Dang Guest

    I’d be more excited about this if this was getting retrofitted to the entire fleet. Yes, there will be 250 aircraft with power by the end of next year. But there are still over 450 737-700s and over 200 737-800s that will still not have power. It’s especially disappointing with not retrofitting the -800s as they’re all relatively young (10 years or younger) so they’ll spend quite a bit more time at Southwest.

  5. Ethan Guest

    The wattage sign near USB-C port seems to be 60W - Then this is amazing and is almost as good as AC these days, unless you are looking to recharge drones, or ancient computer like Lucky's eye sore MacBook Air.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      An M1 MacBook Air will charge fine with a 60W USB-C. What does Ben have?

  6. polarbear Member

    USB-C, interesting.
    It is capable of delivering significant power, enough to charge modern laptops. But I really do not think they will enable it. Even regular USB-A ports on most planes are producing just 1A. Probably for fire safety..

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      The photo indicates 60W.

      I suppose that could be “fake”, but why do that?

  7. GBOAC Diamond

    I hope they will also add complementary messaging as several other airlines now offer

    1. JL Guest

      SWA currently provides free messaging.

  8. mdande7 Gold

    For an airline that says they want to capture the business market this is so long overdue.

    1. Sam Guest

      Southwest Airlines are the worst! Trip delays for no reason. No service on board with no turbulence. Horrible! Idk who’s voting to give them awards.

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Michael Guest

@skyward I don't believe there malicious intent with the select fleet statement. There are always planes that are destined for removal from the fleet, or restricted by lessor terms. When Southwest was rolling out wifi originally in the late 2000's they were very good about notifications to fliers as to what they would be encountering on their travels as the rollout started and was limited to planes they could update. What Southwest does to upset me as a consumer is not make prices available on Google Flights for comparison, and when I do bother to price check them, come in higher. I used to be a Southwest loyalist but haven't been A-List or Companion Pass in 10 years.

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Alex Guest

They’re also adding space bins which you didn’t mention

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Skyward Geek Member

Southwest is going to piss off a lot of customers by the misleading webpage they put up. Nothing about 'select fleet." It makes people feel like all Southwest flights will have USB ports and faster wi-fi when it's not true. https://www.southwest.com/experience/#enhanced-experience

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