Southwest Airlines has announced that it will spend $2 billion on interior upgrades that will improve and enhance the passenger experience.
Key upgrades include enhanced WiFi, upgraded power ports (the legacy USB-A and USB-C) on each seat on all new aircraft deliveries, and the addition of a new fare category.
A hefty makeover
Southwest is already the world’s largest low-cost carrier. They continue to operate outside the stereotype of low-cost carriers offering undesirable flying experiences by further optimising the passenger experience.
There will also be upgrades on the overhead bins to increase their capacity for passengers and a larger range of entertainment options and in-flight refreshments on offer.
Southwest has already started making highly required significant upgrades to its WiFi systems to increase the speed and bandwidth by 10x. The updated systems should be onboard 50 in-service aircraft by May, according to Southwest. They are working towards a projected 350 aircraft being fitted with the updated systems by Halloween this year.
WiFi will be free of charge for all customers on the flights that feature the new systems – while this comes as a welcome benefit for customers, it also helps Southwest analyse the new systems and their performance while a large number of passengers use it at once.
As previously reported by Travel Radar, Southwest will also be launching a new fare category called ‘Wanna Get Away Plus’ that will offer increased flexibility and value for customers. This new fare is expected to become available later this month.
It is clear that Southwest’s mission is to simply offer more – more options and more quality.
Chief Executive Officer Robert Jordan offers more insight as to what the carrier is aspiring towards with the refreshed and enhanced experience:
“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.”
“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.”
The Dallas-based carrier has also partnered with satellite connectivity provider Viasat to provide its next-generation Ka-band satellite in-flight connectivity (IFC) system to be factory installed on all new aircraft deliveries. This works towards the carrier’s plans to improve the passenger experience on-board as the new IFC system will allow for live television to be available to watch.
Ryan Green is Southwest’s Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. He said:
“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. 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.”
The carrier wishes to double the number of free movies available by the end of the year. The flight tracker will be updated to provide cockpit views, customised guides based on destination, and more aircraft information this month.
Tony Roach, Vice President of Customer Experience and Customer Relations, shared his thoughts on Southwest improving its inflight entertainment portal among the lengthy list of upgrades and enhancements:
“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. 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.”
Southwest Airlines is going through a lot of changes to improve its customers’ flight experience. Is flying with Southwest more attractive to you now? Let us know what you think in the comments below!