A year after announcing its plans, Southwest Airlines is testing satellite-provided broadband on one plane in its fleet, expanding the number of places where fliers who like being offline will have one less excuse. The Dallas-based airline is working with Row 44, Inc., using one plane to trial the technology and plans to expand it to at least three more planes by March. (Other airlines use ground-based options, not satellite.) Cost won’t be an excuse either — the service is free during testing, which will go on while the FCC determines final approval. Last year Southwest said it expected to start a trial in the summer of 2008. Any WiFi-enabled device can be used. The first comment on the Southwest blog: a plea for mandatory headphones. Video demo after the jump.
– *Yahoo* custom pages: Southwest has also partnered with Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) to provide customized in-flight homepages with destination-relevant content: a flight tracker with fly-over info illustrated by Flickr, weather, news, events, destination guides and more. The co-branded homepage also features Yahoo Games.
More after the jump…
– Possible revenue: Very hard to gauge at this point. A recent NYT story on in-flight WiFi went with some improbable numbers using American Airlines, which offers the service on 15 flights, and Delta Airlines as examples: “If all 150 passengers on a typical domestic flight were to buy three hours of time, that would mean an extra $1,500 or so in revenue per trip