Personal device charging outlets Better Wi-Fi onboard. For carry-on bags, larger overhead bins are available.
Southwest Airlines announced a $2 billion plan to “change the customer experience” on Wednesday, promising to improve the inflight experience for passengers.
Southwest CEO Bob Jordan told TPG, “We have a wonderful product mixed with amazing personnel giving terrific service, but there is a lot more we can continue to do to fulfill our customers’ and our workers’ expectations.”
As the travel recovery gains traction, Jordan believes it is the appropriate time to double down on passenger initiatives.
“We’re on the mend from the epidemic. He went on to say that Southwest’s “extremely solid financial sheet… helped us to continue working on these things when we were in the epidemic so that we can introduce them now,” adding that “demand is very robust.”
The highlights of Southwest’s customer service announcement are listed below.
Improvements to in-flight Wi-Fi
Inflight Wi-Fi will be much improved, according to Southwest. The airline intends to improve its current service as well as add a new service provider, Viasat, to its mix of alternatives.
Southwest will begin with Anuvu, an existing supplier. The airline has already installed Anuvu’s “latest-generation technology” on 40 of its Boeing 737s, providing free in-flight Wi-Fi as it evaluates the service. The carrier wants to examine how it functions when a significant number of customers use it at the same time. Whatever that reveals, there are plans to go forward. Southwest anticipates having improved gear on 50 aircraft by the end of May and 350 by the end of October.
In addition, starting this autumn, Southwest will switch all of its freshly delivered planes to Viasat’s highly praised — and speedier — service.
Southwest’s in-flight Wi-Fi will now be shared between two providers. Southwest’s chief marketing officer, Ryan Green, agreed that this may add “a little bit” of complication, but said he was unconcerned.
Green told TPG, “Having multiple suppliers is extremely manageable.” “Quite simply, the end-user experience is what we’re devoted to and interested in.” When our clients connect to the internet, we want them to enjoy a high-quality, high-speed, and dependable experience. Who the suppliers are and what technologies are used behind the scenes should be transparent to the end-user.”
There are presently no plans to adjust the airline’s inflight Wi-Fi tariff, which is now $8 per day.
Southwest flights will have access to power ports.
Southwest plans to put USB-A and USB-C power outlets at every seat on its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft starting early next year.
Customers who travel with gadgets will benefit from the shift, as they will no longer need to depend on portable personal chargers to prolong the battery life of their devices on lengthier trips.
In a call with TPG, Green remarked, “The first aircraft with electricity should join our fleet fairly early next year.” “By the end of next year, we expect to have updated around 250 airplanes with electricity.”
Every seat, in the seatback in front of you, will have electricity, so you won’t have to look for a power outlet behind and beneath your leg.”
While consumers are expected to applaud the idea, not everyone will have access to in-flight electricity. That’s because Southwest has no plans to add power ports to its non-MAX 737 jets, which still make up the majority of the company’s fleet of over 700 planes.
Southwest is now planning to modify older 737s, while Green recognizes that this is a logical follow-up inquiry.
“We want to get it on board, see how it functions, see how people use it… what their preferences are,” Green said in the near run. And we’ll get back to all of those other questions later.”
Bins are suspended from the ceiling.
Southwest’s newest aircraft will also feature bigger overhead storage bins in the near future. Boeing’s “Space Bins” will be installed on the carrier’s new MAX aircraft, which will begin arriving early next year.
The airline will keep its “Bags Fly Free” marketing slogan, but claims that the bigger bins will enhance the in-flight experience for passengers with carry-on luggage.
Initiatives across the Southwest
Southwest also previewed additional projects in its Wednesday statement, some of which were previously revealed and others that were not.
Southwest claims that the additional goods would include an increased selection of in-flight refreshments as well as streaming entertainment.
Southwest claimed a new bloody mary mix will be available this summer, followed by the launch of a new “ready-to-drink cocktail” in September. On lengthier flights, there will also be hard seltzer and rose wine as additional choices.
Southwest said it will expand its streaming entertainment portfolio “to more than quadruple the number of free movies now accessible” in the coming months. A flight tracker upgrade is also on the way, with 3D views “that show aircraft information and personalized destination itineraries depending on your travel schedule.”
Introduced a New Fare Type.
Southwest also announced that its newest fare type, “Wanna Get Away Plus,” is nearing completion. It was initially announced in March, however, it is still not available for purchase.
Southwest’s fourth price level, just above its most basic “Wanna Get Away” flights, will include this pricing type. The “Plus” version will offer benefits such as credit transfers from canceled flights and the opportunity to change flights on the same route on the same day.
Those fares will be available “in the next several weeks,” according to Green. “We’re nearing the end of our testing.” We want to make sure the launch goes off without a hitch.”