Southwest considers in-flight Internet, international flights

Low-fare carrier Southwest is seeking to gain revenue from non-flight sources, CEO Gary Kelly said last week. Though Southwest has remained profitable while other airlines have entered bankruptcy, its fuel hedges are unwinding, forcing the carrier to seek revenue from new sources.

Ideas under consideration include in-flight wireless Internet, international flights, and alliances with other carriers. According to a report on e-tid.com (registration required), "Southwest expects within the next few weeks to issue a request for proposals to wireless providers to equip a 'handful' of its 483 aircraft with Internet service. He added that the airline hoped to begin testing prototypes within the next nine months to see whether such systems could be provided at an acceptable cost to it."

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Kelly has said Southwest won't follow in other airlines' footsteps by charging for checked baggage, paper tickets, or phone bookings.

Personally, I fly Southwest frequently and I'd love to see it add in-flight Internet, and I wonder if it would sway travelers who refuse to fly Southwest due to its open-seating policy. Though if Southwest adds Internet services, you can bet that other airlines will follow suit.

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