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Southwest unveils US$2bn flight upgrade plan

written by Isabella Richards | May 13, 2022

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX, pictured at Las Vegas International. (Tomás Del Coro/Wikicommons)

Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines has unveiled a US$2 billion plan to upgrade its customer experience during and before flight.

Announced on Wednesday, the airline is set to enhance Wi-Fi connectivity onboard up to 10 times the current speed, build larger overhead bins and provide power ports for charging at every seat.

CEO Bob Jordan said the company listened to its customers’ insights and hopes to keep loyal customers while also winning new ones with this initiative as the carrier rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You can never stop working to get better, and as our beloved founder Herb famously said, ‘If you rest on your laurels, you’ll get a thorn in your butt!’ We have a long and proud history of offering legendary customer service and warm hospitality, and we have bold plans and significant investments to modernise and enhance the Southwest experience,” he said.

The Dallas-based carrier is upgrading its Wi-Fi equipment on its existing fleet with its longstanding connectivity provider Anuvu.

The upgrade will provide a “significant improvement” in speed and bandwidth, and it will be onboard 50 aircraft by the end of May. By the end of October, Southwest plans to upgrade 350 aircraft with the new Wi-Fi.

As part of the connectivity upgrade, the company is also offering free Wi-Fi to all customers on select flights to test its performance with a large number of customers using it simultaneously.


“Top of our list is giving our customers reliable connections in the air to those things that are important and accessible to them on the ground,” said Ryan Green, senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

Southwest is also installing all latest-generation USB A and USB C power ports on every seat in aircraft, without compromising on leg room.

This new upgrade will be onboard all its 737 MAX jets by early 2023, Southwest said.

While Southwest is typically ranked fairly well for customer service – against other US low-cost carriers like Frontier and Spirit – last year, a personal finance website, called WalletHub, ranked the airline last based on 2021 flight data collected by the US Department of Transportation.

Out of 11 carriers, Southwest was ranked worst due to unreliability and safety.

However, these new upgrades do not come as a surprise as Southwest has pledged it is set on attracting more business travellers over the coming years.

Last year, CCO Andrew Watterson said Southwest will continue to create a “better offering” for corporate travellers by accessing new airports and increasing its bases.

Appealing to both business and leisure travellers, the latest upgrade also includes larger overhead bins, which will be on aircraft delivering early next year.

The company has also broadened its drink selection and launched a new fare, called Wanna Get Away Plus, allowing customers to transfer travel funds and confirm same-day flight changes, without altering base fares.





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