Apart from the (often hilarious) performances of its crew members, Southwest Airlines is not known for offering in-flight entertainment to passengers. But that is poised to soon change. The US low-cost giant this quarter expects to begin trialling new IPTV programming on certain aircraft equipped with Row 44′s Ku-band satellite-supported in-flight Wi-Fi, the APEX editor’s blog can reveal.
“It will probably be a slow roll-out. We’re partnering with Row 44 and we’re excited to see how well it is going to be received,” says Southwest manager, product development marketing Angela Vargo.
She adds: “It is a work in progress. We’ll be making more announcements here pretty soon in terms of testing IPTV VOD on the aircraft.”
Last year Row 44 forged numerous IPTV partnerships to bring CNBC, Bloomberg Television, NBC Sports Network and other news and sports programming to passengers.
In advance of the IPTV trial, Southwest has refreshed its in-flight Wi-Fi portal, which features Skymall shopping, basic games, and a flight tracker. “We partnered with MapQuest and they’re providing our flight tracker, which is great. It’s the number one thing visited on the portal, the flight tracker. People love to see where they’re going,” says Vargo.
She reveals that Southwest, under partnership with a company called Swiftair, is also testing a location-based software product that basically offers “deals specific to the destination you’re going to”. For example, if you’re flying to Denver, the service will be able to tell you “the cool hot spots to visit, things that are really the heartbeat of the town that you may know as a local but wouldn’t know as a visitor”.
“It’s really cool stuff, and it’s really in line with what we want to do with Wi-Fi, make it really personalised for the user, something that is just part of the overall travel experience and so Row 44 [and] our platform allows us to do that,” adds Vargo.