Southwest Airlines Outlines Two Billion-Dollar Upgrade

Category: Transportation

Southwest Airlines Outlines Two Billion-Dollar Upgrade

May 11, 2022

DALLAS — Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV), today awarded the 2022 J.D. Power Award for Highest Customer Satisfaction among Economy carriers in North America, announces next steps in its plan to bring the next generation of Customer Experience in travel with Southwest Airlines®, through more than two billion dollars in planned investments. These initiatives are designed to enhance and simplify Customers' journeys—from booking trips, to traveling through airports, and while inflight—delivering an even more enjoyable, efficient, and productive Customer Experience.

On the ongoing journey to modernize the Customer Experience, Southwest revealed commitments to:

  • Bring enhanced WiFi connectivity onboard aircraft;
  • Install latest-technology onboard power ports to charge personal devices at every seat;
  • Offer larger overhead bins with more space and easier access to carryon items;
  • Launch a new fare category with added flexibility and value, Wanna Get Away PlusTM;
  • Introduce more entertainment options and a wider selection of refreshments in the cabin; and,
  • Enable new self-service capabilities to bring elevated ease in doing business with Southwest, benefiting Employees and Customers.

"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 modernize and enhance the Southwest Experience," said Bob Jordan, Chief Executive Officer. "As we continue to welcome back loyal Customers and win new ones, these initiatives, combined with the best People in the industry, support our Purpose of connecting People to what's most important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel."

Commitment to Connectivity

"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. "We're investing in our onboard connectivity and bandwidth available to each Customer with upgraded technology that's now installing across our existing fleet, a strategy to diversify our WiFi vendors on upcoming aircraft deliveries, and plugging Southwest Customers into in-seat power to keep them charged while in the air."

  • Southwest is upgrading WiFi equipment 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 10 times the current hardware onboard.
  • Plans are for the Anuvu latest-generation hardware to be onboard 50 in-service aircraft by the end of May, with a projected 350 aircraft upgraded by the end of October.
  • Testing the upgraded WiFi equipment is now underway on some routes over the western mainland U.S. As part of the test, Southwest is offering free WiFi to all Customers on select flights to understand how the upgraded equipment performs with a large number of Customers using the equipment simultaneously.
  • Alongside its relationship with legacy connectivity provider Anuvu, Southwest recently entered into an agreement with industry-leading satellite connectivity provider Viasat to provide high quality internet and live television programming onboard newly delivered aircraft beginning in the fall of this year.

Southwest pioneered gate-to-gate connectivity in 2010, becoming the first major airline in the United States to offer satellite-based connectivity on domestic flights. The first generation technology brought free live TV, streamed on individual devices. The airline continues to heavily invest in its WiFi product aimed to meet Customers' connectivity expectations.

Leaping to the Latest In-Seat Power

Southwest plans to install latest-generation onboard USB A and USB C power ports on every seat in the aircraft, with a space-saving system that will not compromise legroom. The airline plans to bring this new convenience and capability onboard 737 MAX aircraft beginning in early 2023.

"The ability to keep your devices charged while you are connected inflight is a request that we've heard consistently in ongoing conversations with our Customers," said Tony Roach, Vice President of Customer Experience and Customer Relations. "With so much that our Customers love about doing business with Southwest, we're constantly listening to our Employees and our Customers for improvement opportunities, and we're excited to share some additional news and updates on this ongoing work."

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