Dallas, Texas | December 13, 2016– Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) is committed to enhancing the inflight Customer experience and improving connectivity on Southwest® flights across the U.S. and near international destinations. This commitment is demonstrated with the carrier’s announcement today that it has entered into connectivity agreements with Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) and Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE). The agreement with Panasonic provides for their Global Communications Services, which include WiFi and live television, to be offered on a portion of the carrier’s fleet, with the first Panasonic equipped aircraft scheduled to enter service in late 2017. The agreement with GEE extends the carrier’s use of the company’s Airconnect connectivity system and services. Both of the agreements support Southwest’s focus on yielding greater WiFi bandwidth available to Customers on WiFi-equipped aircraft.

Southwest’s agreements with Panasonic and GEE align with next year’s planned retirement of the carrier’s non-WiFi-equipped 737-300 Classic aircraft and the introduction of the new Boeing 737-8 (MAX). By the end of 2017, Southwest Airlines is targeting to operate a 100 percent WiFi-equipped fleet of more than 700 aircraft.

“As the largest domestic airline in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded, carrying more than 100 million Customers a year, we are committed to providing an enhanced inflight experience for our Customers,” said Ryan Green, Vice President Marketing for Southwest Airlines. “We’ve led the way in Customer experience, being the first U.S. carrier to offer gate-to-gate connectivity to our Customers while having the foresight that Customers prefer to use their own devices to stay connected. Going forward, our Customers will have the capability to stay connected on Southwest Airlines flights with even more bandwidth at their disposal.”

The Customer experience with connectivity remains a top priority for Southwest. Southwest’s agreements with GEE and Panasonic demonstrate the Company’s focus to keep Customers connected to what matters most in their lives, especially onboard their Southwest flights. In mid-2017, Customers will be able to browse the Internet at increased speeds as a result of an expected bandwidth increase of at least three times more than what they currently experience, with an additional expected bandwidth increase in mid-2018. Connectivity speeds are expected to increase, and Southwest plans to develop relationships with content providers to bring even more exclusive content to its Customers while on flights.

“We are pleased to extend and grow our relationship, including continuing to install GEE’s Airconnect system, WiFi and television services on Southwest Airlines aircraft,” commented Dave Davis, CEO of Global Eagle. “We’re committed to continuously improving the inflight connectivity experience for Southwest’s passengers with our next-generation high performance network, our live television portfolio, and our new passenger experience platform. Global Eagle’s new agreement and contract extension with Southwest Airlines highlights our long-term commitment to enhancing inflight entertainment and connectivity.”

Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer for Panasonic Avionics said, “We are both honored and excited to partner with Southwest on a program of this size and magnitude. Over the past year, we’ve been rolling out industry-leading high throughput satellite services, and we’re already evaluating new technologies such as XTSTM (Extreme Throughput Satellite) services, new modem designs and cutting-edge antenna technology that will ensure the best possible WiFi and entertainment experience for our customers and their passengers. We look forward to being a valued partner for both WiFi and entertainment services with Southwest for many years to come.”

“Panasonic has a longstanding reputation within the inflight entertainment and connectivity space and we are excited for them to join our inflight experience. Global Eagle Entertainment has been the inflight connectivity provider for Southwest over the past six years and has continued to grow with our business, extending connectivity to millions of our Customers annually,” Green said. “We are pleased to have both partners helping to provide an improved inflight experience over the next 18 months as we continue to see an increase in demand for inflight WiFi connectivity.”

Customers will continue to enjoy the current onboard entertainment offerings they experience with Southwest today, such as free live TV and $8 per device per day for WiFi connectivity across all WiFi-equipped planes.

If you are wondering why we are using the image of the Southwest/Beats paint job for the Hot Topic, it is because we were inspired by the case study in Patrick Prefontaine’s terrific APEX presentation… and because the airplane looks cool. Thanks to Southwest and Patrick! – Patricia Wiseman | Editor.

After viewing the APEX TC agenda, we contacted Rich Salter and Michael Childers for their impression of some of the sessions during the meeting in California last week and here are a few of the hot topics there:

Some highlights from the APEX TEC meeting

Keynote: Patrick Prefontaine of GEE whose topic was “Wireless IFE” keynoted the meeting. He gave an excellent overview of the market for wireless IFE, beginning with the market size today and progressing to the forecast for future growth and the trends that are driving it. He covered the benefits and challenges of wireless IFE for tablets and smartphones, and concluded with the description of the Beats Music Inflight Service just launched on Southwest Airlines, powered by GEE. This was an excellent presentation appreciated by all in attendance, and it stimulated a lively Q&A session afterward. We have obtained permission for our readers to check it out here.

Payment Tech: The payment technologies session focused on the approaching liability changeover date (October 2015) for fraudulent use of magnetic swipe cards in the US. This is the date that liability will transfer from credit card issuers (i.e., VISA, MC, et al) to merchants (i.e., airlines). Chip & Pin cards are being issued prior to the date, and merchants are now updating their terminals to add Chip & Pin and NFC (near-field communications) readers. An excellent description of NFC (including ApplePay, etc.) was presented along with what is involved in installing and certifying it for use onboard aircraft. The session concluded with the Tech Committee agreeing to charter a Payment Technologies Working Group to pursue a two-year delay in the liability changeover for airlines with magnetic card readers, and to educate the membership about NFC and other future payment technologies.

Captions:  The Technologies for Disabled Passengers session covered a lot of extremely interesting ground, including a description of the APEX white paper developed by the Closed Captions WG that was recently finalized and submitted to DOT (Dept of Transportation) re their proposal for airlines to add closed captions to entertainment content. Michael Childers proposed that the TC continue to work with the DOT, A4A, and the disabled community. See below for more information on this topic.

Audio Descriptions: These are the scene descriptions of the video content (movie and TC programs) for the blind and visually handicapped – the program audio is lowered and spoken audio is inserted when time permits. WGBH’s NCAM (Nat’l Center for Accessible Media) made a great presentation of audio descriptions, and Emirates and Air Canada also described what they are already doing with these. In addition, Geoff Freed of NCAM explained and demonstrated the ways that blind users can already use touchscreens on kiosks, airline websites, and smartphones.

HD Security: The TC adopted the updates to APEX Spec 0403 with encoding parameters for and security requirements for HD 1080p video content on embedded IFE systems. Pierre Schuberth of Thales did a great job of getting this spec completed in the past six months. Pierre also presented a list of possible next projects for the WG, and asked that members submit their comments and preferences to TC staff person Lauren Beneri.

Future Tech Trends: This session showed Bryan Rusenko’s list of future technical trends and also highlighted the potential for a 50% reduction in storage required for video content that is encoded with the new codec known as HEVC (high efficiency video codec) or H.265. Note: APEX members can see the slides for these and other presentations on the APEX website  – log on and click on “Resources” then “Past Presentations.”

Earlier in this article, we stated that we wanted dig a little deeper into the accessibility issue because we want to dedicate a bit more space to the subject. If you are like a lot of folks, inflight accessibility is just not in your purview because most probably you don’t need the service. This issue was discussed at the TC and IFExpress’ goal is to give you a bit more incentive to get interested in the subject. To that end, we talked further to Rich Salter and Michael Childers, chair of the APEX Technology Committee and a member of the APEX Board of Directors respectively, who pointed out just why you I should.

Firstly, folks with disabilities travel like you and me and while they are certainly in the noise as a percentage of the population, have every right to be entertained on a flight, if for no other reason, to keep ones mind off the fact that they are traveling at 550 MPH at 33,000 feet. In a discussion with Rich Salter, he told IFExpress that Goeff Freed (NCAM – http://ncam.wgbh.org) showed a demonstration that really sounded like something our readers, who did not go to the meeting, would find interesting and informative. “It’s already done for the blind… some TV shows like Downton Abbey have accessibility developed for the blind… the background audio drops on a new scene and the off camera narrator describes the scene… the show then goes on with the regular audio until the next scene,” he said. Brilliant, and not that difficult, as we understand it. Noted Michael Childers: “Yes, from a purely technical perspective descriptive audio for the blind is as easy as adding any other audio track to a movie. It is a straightforward process of adding it to the workflow. Studios, however, say that they may not have done all of the rights clearances on descriptive audio to make it available immediately. We will take this up in the Closed Caption Working Group (CCWG) in the near future and see if we can’t clear a path toward clearances and implementation. Emirates offers several Disney movies with descriptive audio for the blind, and Air Canada offers a range of services for the blind. Check Air Canada’s presentation, along with Geoff Freed’s on the APEX website in the next few days.”

On November 5, Childers and APEX Executive Director Russ Lemieux participated as guest speakers in the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Disability Forum in Washington DC dealing with Disability Issues in Air Transport. Donna Danielewski, PhD, Director of the National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), part of the Media Access Group at Public Broadcast Station (PBS) WGBH in Boston, joined them in a panel for Q&A. NCAM and APEX have collaborated on closed captions in IFE since the early 2000s, and are also collaborating on descriptive audio services for the blind in IFE. They explained to an audience of 150 people comprised of representatives of disability groups, airlines, and DOT officials that as recently as 2006 the technology was not available to render closed captions in IFE, and that doing so requires that both the IFE platform and the content delivered to it must support closed captions—and in a compatible format.

According to Childers, today almost half of the in-service IFE systems where the individual controls the video display support closed captions as codified in APEX Specification 0403. By Q1 2015, only systems that support closed captions will be sold in IFE. This shows that the IFE industry has come a long way since 2006, when APEX (then WAEA) first began to codify technologies to make CC in IFE a reality. In less than 10 years, CC should be available on 99 percent of IFE systems. While this may seem slow to some, Childers and Lemieux told the DOT Forum that IFE systems have a two-year development, 10 to 13-year deployment cycle, and may cost up to $5 million per aircraft depending on size and configuration. IFE systems are purpose-built, require expensive FAA certification, and as a result do not use the same technology and configurations as consumer electronics. The path to providing CC in IFE is complex and costly, but ultimately the right thing to do.

The DOT plans to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in 2015 to establish rules for the provision of CC in IFE. Childers and Lemieux, on behalf of APEX, are engaged with DOT to ensure that the interests of the IFE community, as well as, the deaf and hard of hearing, are considered. We have two words for our readers: Get Involved.

(Editors Note – We would be remiss in not noting that the first airline to implement a system for the visually impaired was Air Canada in their B787 aircraft on their Panasonic eX3 hardware.)

  • Carrier Brings A Curated Music Experience Onboard WiFi-enabled Aircraft Beginning Nov. 3

Dallas, Texas | November 3, 2014– Southwest Airlines® (NYSE: LUV) is giving Customers a new reason to pack their headphones! Beginning today, Beats Music is providing a uniquely curated music experience onboard Southwest Airlines WiFi-enabled aircraft.

Customers accessing Beats Music onboard have an opportunity to listen to wide-ranging music programming in pop, rock, country, and other genres to hear fresh new artists and the hottest songs, which are handpicked by Beats Music expert curators. Accessing the service inflight is on the house and includes a library of hundreds of playlists. Not sure what to listen to, but feel like Jet-Setting with your BFF to Pop? The Sentence offers a continuous playlist just for you, customized by your response to four questions about location, activity, surroundings, and musical preference.

“Southwest connects our Customers to what is important in their lives, and in this case, it’s music,” said Kevin Krone, Southwest Airlines Chief Marketing Officer. “We continue to enhance our onboard offerings to remain current as our Customers’ needs evolve, and with the addition of Beats Music on our entertainment portal, we’re doing just that.”

The new entertainment service was introduced today at a live demonstration onboard the official Beats Music-decaled Boeing 737 aircraft. To celebrate, a special playlist was created that will come to life with live concerts from a couple of the artists on select Southwest flights at 35,000 feet! The official Beats Music aircraft is planned to depart from Dallas Love Field to Chicago-Midway on flight 723 with Cobra Starship onboard. Customers on this flight will get a Southwest Airlines VIP backstage pass to the most elevated live concert they’ve ever experienced, with an opportunity to meet and receive

Every once in a while we all go to a meeting, see a presentation, or visit an industry show that is a significant event in our industry’s persona… this year it has to be Aircraft Interiors in Hamburg, Germany. Obviously a lot of our readers could not attend and we are aware of that fact. We planned to talk to as many folks as we could to provide some of the experience but the job is becoming so bigger than the IFExpress team… much bigger. From a numbers perspective, there were over 135 vendors (out of 500+) who featured inflight entertainment and/or connectivity. With the cabin interiors market growing at almost 9% per year, it’s no wonder that the IFEC portion of the show saw some 13% increase in space. We fully expect the final total number of show visitors to reach 10,000+ this year as a new best.

One of the first things that struck us was the preponderance of iPads. They were in the products, they were in the hands of the product demonstrators, and they were in the hands of visitors. They were everywhere. Yes, there were tablets too, and phones… but the world of mobile connectivity is here, but of course, you knew that. But it was obvious this year that the vendors and the airlines now know it as well. About the only thing we did not see with an iPad was a mechanical drop down frame for an iPad retractable IFE system. Wait till next year!

And speaking of trends, wireless connectivity is what the inside of the cabin is all about. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, data communication and cell frequencies will flood the cabin with information in forthcoming cabin solutions. This means that there is a huge amount of data about you and your preferences flying in every direction in the plane. We are quite interested in who owns that data, and believe us, everyone has a different answer about who does. We asked there and we will keep this question alive in future issues.

The first day of AIX (before the booth opening on day 2) holds a very interesting Passenger Experience Mini Conference. This meeting consists of a morning general session and splits into 4 afternoon plenary sessions.

Of particular interest in the morning session was Teague’s (Devin Liddell) presentation on “Co-Making”…the process of a brand (an airline in our case) collaborating with a like-minded brand in a different industry. What makes this interesting is the fact that they are not about traditional co-branding and more about breakthrough innovations. Here are some quotes that we found interesting:

  • “Partnerships are our most powerful currency.”
  • “The capacity to partner has a big impact on influencing the passenger.”
  • “We need to go beyond – we must make things together.”
  • “The old philosophy was co-branding = co-marketing. The new philosophy is co-branding = co-making. The concept is more about innovation together.”
  • “An example of a co-making scenario that exists today is JW Marriott and TSA.”

Editor’s Note: The above example places TSA approved and checked luggage in a secure storage at Marriott, thus providing more for Marriott customers.

If you made it to the Break Out Sessions the first day of PAXEX, you got a valuable inside to the connected passenger and the coming PED environment as well. In fact there is good and bad in the approach! First the good: The four Breakout Sessions were one of the best things at AIX and were titled: 1. Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity: A Voyage of Discovery and Opportunity, 2. Hospitality and Service – Making the Onboard Experience Memorable, 3. The Cabin: Getting Smarter about Space and Comfort, 4. Protecting the Brand: Cabin Maintenance. Which one would you go to? And that’s the Bad… one can’t go to them all, but there is an answer. The presentations are available here (they will cost you 50 Euros) and you can find them here: http://www.pexconference.com/Presentations/

And yes, we do have one story about the sessions. In Breakout Session 1, Angela Vargo of Southwest Airlines spoke about their use and focus on the value of gate-to-gate connectivity. After her presentation IFExpress asked if Southwest realized that with satellite connectivity, there was no antenna “shading” by buildings that ground-based connectivity towers face, a fact that was not mentioned in the presentation. “Boy do we,” she said emphatically! We guessed that was a marketing yes!

Next week we will start the booth coverage in detail and by then we hope to have Flicker images online (Just click on the Flicker image at the top right of IFExpress)… that is, if our bag arrives!

  • Live & on-demand TV continues to fly free on personal devices on WiFi equipped Southwest flights, compliments of DISH
  •  Limited time offer for new DISH customers to receive Southwest Rapid Rewards Points and iPad Mini as part of DISH promotion

Denver, CO | January 16, 2014– DISH (NASDAQ:DISH) and Southwest Airlines® (NYSE:LUV) announced today they are extending their partnership and the “TV Flies Free” promotion. Through December 31, 2014, DISH will provide Southwest Customers using iOS, Android and most other Internet-ready devices free access to nearly 20 live TV channels and up to 75 on-demand shows on the airline’s nearly 440 WiFi-enabled aircraft. Onboard access to live TV, on-demand programming and WiFi connectivity is delivered by Southwest’s satellite-based inflight entertainment and connectivity partner, Row 44, a subsidiary of Global Eagle Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ: ENT).

The program was originally announced in July 2013 when DISH and Southwest surprised passengers aboard a Southwest flight with a giveaway of free iPad® 2 devices to celebrate the new partnership. Since that time, DISH has enabled millions of Southwest Customers to watch their favorite shows in-flight at no charge.

“Since the FAA changed its rules regarding personal electronic device usage, mobile video viewing on Southwest Airlines flights has increased more than 20 percent,” said James Moorhead, DISH Chief Marketing Officer. “By extending our partnership with Southwest we are able to give their Customers a sample of what DISH customers experience on a daily basis, their favorite TV programs, anytime, anywhere and at no additional cost, simply the best mobile TV experience.”

As part of the extension, DISH will continue offering new customers who sign up for the Hopper and a qualified programming package, 12,500 points in the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® program and the choice of a free iPad Mini.

“Southwest is in the business of providing exemplary Customer Service and this partnership with DISH has been very popular with our Customers,” said Kevin Krone, Southwest Airlines Chief Marketing Officer. “Free is a great thing for Customers in this industry and having DISH providing this amenity through 2014 will continue to make our onboard experience even more entertaining this year.”

The live TV and on-demand programming available on Southwest are part of a suite of products delivered by Global Eagle to the airline. Powered through Ku-band satellite technology, the platform, which includes high-speed Internet, messaging and destination services is now available to Customers at all stages of flight, and Southwest is still the only U.S. airline able to offer gate-to-gate connectivity and messaging services.

Once onboard a WiFi-equipped plane, Southwest Customers can connect to the WiFi network and launch their Internet browser to be directed to the Southwest Airlines Entertainment Portal. From there, passengers can access live TV and on-demand programs free of charge, compliments of DISH.

  • Southwest is First U.S. Carrier to Offer Messaging At All Phases of Flight and Still the Only Airline Offering Inflight WiFi Below 10,000 Feet

Dallas, TX and Los Angeles, Ca | December 11, 2013– Adding to the list of services it now offers Customers inflight, Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) and its inflight entertainment and connectivity partner, Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. (Nasdaq: ENT) announced today the launch of a messaging service designed to work in all stages of flight. The new service enables passengers with Apple devices operating on iOS 5 or later the ability to iMessage gate-to-gate for the introductory price of $2 per day. Android-friendly messaging apps will be added early in 2014.

Currently available on 435 aircraft, Southwest is the only U.S. carrier to offer WiFi below 10,000 feet, and with the addition of Global Eagle’s texting product, the airline continues to build upon the extensive entertainment and connectivity services that are available to its Customers at all stages of flight. Customers now have the opportunity to choose the inflight connectivity services that meet their needs, from free TV courtesy of DISH, to WiFi gate-to-gate, to messaging.

“It is our pleasure to say that regardless of whether we’re parked at the gate or flying at 30,000 feet in the air, we are able to provide a truly robust entertainment and connectivity service for our passengers,” said Kevin Krone, Southwest Airlines Chief Marketing Officer. “Our partnership with Global Eagle has afforded us the opportunity to be first with the services we offer, and has truly helped to differentiate Southwest Airlines in ways that are meaningful to our Customers.”

With today’s announcement, Global Eagle and Southwest continue to reinforce the value of satellite-based connectivity and its ability to deliver a broad range of services to improve the passenger experience inflight.

“When the ban on inflight connectivity below 10,000 feet was lifted, we knew we were in a great position to take some significant strides in terms of passenger experience with Southwest Airlines,” said John LaValle, Chief Executive Officer of Global Eagle Entertainment. “Our messaging service breaks new ground, and embraces the changing face of communication, one where texting has already surpassed voice calls as the preferred method of phone use among young adults, and continues to grow.”

How It Works:
– Once onboard, Customers can switch their phones to “airplane mode” and connect to the Southwest WiFi network.

– From the WiFi portal homepage, Apple users with devices operating iOS 5 or later can select “Messaging” from the “Connect” tab and pay $2 for all day texting with other iMessage users on WiFi-enabled planes.

– For Customers that prefer to do more, WiFi is still available for $8 all day per device and texting is included in that purchase automatically.

– No need to power down! Customers can send messages gate-to-gate like they never left the ground.

Southwest, serving more than 100 million passengers each year, continues to offer the most comprehensive inflight entertainment and connectivity experience at all phases of flight, which now includes:
· Inflight WiFi available from gate-to-gate for $8 per device per day

· iMessage, available from gate-to-gate for $2 per day, for iPhone users with iOS5 or later

· Live Television streamed directly to passengers’ own personal electronic devices, free of charge, courtesy of DISH

· Video-on-Demand television content and movies

Powered by Global Eagle’s satellite-based connectivity platform, the new service—in sync with gate-to-gate Wi-Fi—is also optimized to work in all phases of flight, including on the ground.

  • Southwest is first and only carrier in the U.S. to offer the service to passengers

Los Angeles, CA | November 21, 2013– Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. (Nasdaq: ENT) announced today the availability of its Wi-Fi service to passengers gate to gate on Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV). Southwest is the first and only airline to offer its passengers a gate-to-gate Wi-Fi service because the airline uses Global Eagle’s satellite-based connectivity platform, which was optimized from the beginning to work in all phases of flight, including on the ground.

On October 31st, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ruled that airlines can safely expand passenger use of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight. The inflight Wi-Fi service provided to Southwest by Global Eagle harnesses the power of Ku-band satellite connectivity, which was designed for continuous operation at all phases of flight.

Now available on more than 435 Wi-Fi-equipped Southwest aircraft, the design of the system supported an immediate roll-out, making it available for use by more than 100 million passengers each year.

“Southwest has always been exceptional in terms of providing the services that both differentiate them within the market and truly provide a better experience for the millions of loyal Customers they serve,” said John LaValle, Chief Executive Officer of Global Eagle Entertainment. “As the only domestic carrier with active satellite-based Wi-Fi, they have yet again raised the bar. We are proud to provide the service that allows their passengers to stay connected to the web, and use their portable electronic devices to access the entertainment they love through all phases of flight.”

“Our ability to provide the best Customer Experience possible is now even more enhanced with our ability to offer onboard Wi-Fi from gate-to-gate,” said Kevin Krone, Southwest Airlines Chief Marketing Officer. “Global Eagle has been an outstanding partner, and their ability to offer the service in such an expedited and efficient manner has been a tremendous asset. Our inflight entertainment service is truly unmatched in the business.”

– ‘TV Flies Free’ program launched on July 1st on more than 425 Southwest aircraft
– Innovative Inflight Entertainment offering expands on Global Eagle’s market leadership

Westlake Village, CA | July 2, 2013– Global Eagle Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ: ENT) announced today that its Row 44 subsidiary has entered into a groundbreaking content and connectivity partnership with its customer Southwest Airlines® (NYSE: LUV). Row 44 will power a new inflight offering called ‘TV Flies Free’ whereby, for the first time, passengers will be able to watch free live TV and more than 50 on-demand shows streamed directly to personal devices, courtesy of DISH (NASDAQ: DISH).

Row 44, a leading provider of satellite-based inflight WiFi and device-based entertainment for airlines around the world, operates its inflight connectivity service with a network of Ku-band satellites. In addition to delivering consistent, universal coverage for WiFi connectivity, Ku-band is also the only broadband technology, whether satellite or air-to-ground, that can cost-effectively deliver and support live television programming to airlines as its beam design can receive, carry and deliver live television streams in a single beam.

Row 44 first launched its live TV platform on Southwest Airlines in the summer of 2012. After a successful pilot phase, it was rolled out to all WiFi-equipped Boeing 737-700 and -800 aircraft, which now represents more than 425 aircraft or about 75 percent of Southwest’s fleet.

“This trailblazing partnership is a validation of our industry-leading technology and our integrated content and connectivity platform,” said John LaValle, Chief Executive Officer of Global Eagle Entertainment. “This new program reflects the ability of our unique platform to meet the evolving needs of our customers and the millions of travelers they serve. We look forward to working with Southwest and DISH on this truly market-leading promotion.”

Earlier this year, Southwest Airlines announced an upgrade to the live TV package as well as the addition of on-demand episodes of popular TV shows. With the new DISH-sponsored ‘TV Flies Free’ program, Southwest Customers will be able to watch free live TV and more than 50 on demand shows on their personal devices. Live TV is available on most Internet-ready devices on most Southwest flights.

“Southwest Airlines continues to innovate and evolve our on-board Customer experience,” said Kevin Krone, Chief Marketing Officer at Southwest Airlines. “We started with WiFi and now have expanded to television. This new offer puts free television in the hands of our Customers. Just one more way Southwest offers more value at 37,000 feet.”

The design of the satellite network that supports the ‘TV Flies Free’ program, which operates across North America, is the result of a deep engineering and technology collaboration between Hughes Network Systems, LLC (Hughes) and Row 44. Hughes’ expertise in broadband satellite solutions and services has bolstered the performance of the network and contributes heavily to the ongoing consistent performance of the live TV product.

“Our relationship with Row 44 has afforded both enterprises the opportunity to deliver true innovation to inflight entertainment,” said Paul Gaske, Executive Vice President and General Manager, North American Division for Hughes. “As a pioneer in high-speed satellite Internet technology and services, Hughes is an ideal partner for Row 44, and we look forward to continuing to innovate and push the limits of in-flight entertainment and communications (IFEC) alongside them.”

Added LaValle, “Our live TV product is an outstanding example of the capacity and flexibility a system powered by Ku-band satellite connectivity can achieve, and it is being established on a global scale.”

– First delivery to launch customer Southwest now scheduled in third quarter 2017
– Boeing retires key technology risks on 737 MAX program

Le Bourget, France | June 19, 2013– Boeing (NYSE: BA) announced today that first delivery of the 737 MAX 8 to launch customer Southwest Airlines will be a quarter earlier than originally scheduled – in the third quarter of 2017 instead of fourth quarter.

“Through our disciplined development on the 737 MAX program, the team has retired key technology risks,” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager, Airplane Development, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, during a briefing at the 2013 Paris Air Show. “We have informed our customers and they are pleased they will be able to put these more fuel-efficient airplanes in their fleets sooner than planned.”

Since launch in August 2011, the 737 MAX team has worked to define the final configuration of the airplane including new LEAP-1B engines from CFM International, a redesigned tail cone and the Advanced Technology winglet. Testing in the wind tunnel and data analysis prove that the 737 MAX configuration, set to be final in July, will give customers a 13 percent fuel-burn improvement over today’s most fuel efficient single-aisle airplanes.

The work done by Boeing has enabled the program to accelerate the 737 MAX schedule. “We continue to follow our knowledge points through the development process and we have an executable plan. Testing, improvement workshops, and solid early data have allowed us to validate the airplane’s performance and move the schedule forward,” said Fancher.

Joe Ozimek, vice president of Marketing, 737 MAX, emphasized during the briefing that the 737 MAX will be the best single-aisle airplane in its class. “We know that the 737 MAX will be 8 percent more fuel efficient than the A320neo, fly farther and offer our customers more value,” he said.

Next, after firm configuration is achieved, the 737 MAX team will begin detailed design of the airplane, scheduled for completion in 2014.

– Majority of Fleet Now Equipped With Variety of Inflight Entertainment Options

Dallas, TX | February 19, 2013/PRNewswire/- Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) announced today that movies on demand are now available on all WiFi-equipped Southwest aircraft for only $5 per movie, per device. The airline also announced an upgrade to their television package. In 2012, Southwest became the only airline in the world to stream live television directly to Customers’ personal devices. Now, in addition to eight channels of live news and sports, Customers can also select on-demand episodes of popular television shows. The upgraded TV package is $5 a day, per device on WiFi-enabled planes.

“Providing a comprehensive and robust inflight connectivity system for our Customers is paramount,” said Dave Ridley , Southwest Airlines’ Senior Vice President Business Development. “Our Flight Attendants are famous for delivering superb Customer Service, and we’re excited to enhance our onboard entertainment offering and take the Customer Experience to new heights.”

The majority of Southwest Customers now have access to WiFi, movies on demand, and the upgraded television offering. As of February 6, all Southwest Boeing 737-700 and 737-800 aircraft were equipped with Row 44 satellite technology that enables these entertainment offerings/services. This milestone represents nearly 75 percent of all Southwest aircraft, which completes the retrofit installations. Moving forward, all new deliveries and AirTran conversions will enter service with Row 44 technology installed.

WiFi service can be purchased for $8 a day, per device including stops and connections. Customers do not need to purchase WiFi in order to access movies or TV.

Accessing the Internet, or watching movies and television is simple. Customers use their WiFi-enabled device onboard any Boeing 737-700 or 737-800 aircraft, connect to “southwestwifi,” and launch their browser to be directed to the inflight entertainment portal. From the portal, Customers are able to select WiFi, movies, or television. The portal also provides free access to a flight tracker, shopping, and games. With Row 44 satellite technology, connectivity continues to work over bodies of water so Customers remain connected all day, no matter where they travel. This video highlights the Inflight connectivity experience.

For more information and visuals about using WiFi, movies, or television onboard, please visit the WiFi media kit on SWAmedia.

– Row 44 completes installation on 400th Southwest Aircraft
– Southwest’s Inflight Entertainment Platform Features Live Television

Westlake Village, California | January 22, 2013– Row 44, the leading provider of inflight Wi-Fi and device-based entertainment for airlines around the world, and its partner Southwest Airlines announced today that the Row 44 inflight entertainment and connectivity service, which includes high-speed Internet, shopping, destination services, and real-time flight map with updates, has been installed on 400 Southwest aircraft. In addition, Southwest offers Row 44’s live television service across all Wi-Fi equipped aircraft.

“The 400th installation of broadband capabilities on our fleet is a particularly significant milestone for Southwest and our partner Row 44,” said Dave Ridley, Southwest Airlines’ Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “Southwest was the first U.S. carrier to test satellite-delivered broadband Internet access on multiple aircraft. We have found the strength of satellite service has allowed us to deliver very high bandwidth for Internet users and provide our inflight entertainment via the addition of live television.”

Now available onSouthwest aircraft installed with Wi-Fi, the live television service features nine channels of live news and sports, which includes NBC Sports, NFL Network, NFL Red Zone, MLB, MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News, Fox Business News and FOX-NYC. Passengers with Wi-Fi-enabled devices can stream the live television service. Importantly, the Row 44 live television service utilizes a distinct band transmitted to the aircraft, and therefore does not interfere with Internet connectivity.

“Our 400th installation on Southwest is a notable achievement for Row 44, and coupled with a growing list of services they entrust us to deliver to their Customers makes it even more significant,” said Row 44’s Chief Executive Officer John LaValle. “As our partnership with Southwest continues to thrive, Row 44 remains committed to innovating in the ways that are meaningful to Southwest and their passengers’ inflight entertainment experience.”

“We look forward to having the most robust inflight entertainment platform in the sky,” added Ridley.“

– New Wi-Fi Service Gives Passengers Access to Virtual Tours, Insider Information and Special Deals on Bookable Services in Their Destination City.

Dallas, TX | November 13, 2012– SwiftAir announced today that Row 44, the leading provider of in-flight Wi-Fi and device-based entertainment, has selected SwiftAir as a partner for in-flight destination services. Row 44 plans to roll out SwiftAir’s interactive in-flight travel guide exclusively on Southwest Airlines’ fleet of more than 350 Wi-Fi enabled planes. The inflight deals will debut in early 2013 on planes flying into 11 of Southwest’s top destinations. More cities will be added throughout the year.

With this new interactive travel guide powered by SwiftAir, passengers aboard planes equipped with Row 44’s in-flight Wi-Fi will be able to view virtual tours of their destination city and browse and buy exclusive deals only offered in-flight – such as tickets to shows or sporting events, restaurant reservations and tourist packages. Access to the in-flight deals will be available at no cost via Southwest’s In-Flight Entertainment Portal.

“SwiftAir provides consumers with a destination-specific experience each time they fly versus repurposed content from the ground,” said Trey Bayne, SwiftAir chief executive and financial officer. “We are excited to provide Southwest customers with an entirely new way to receive special offers and incentives from businesses, restaurants and entertainment venues in their destination city.”

Customers flying on a Row 44 Wi-Fi enabled Southwest aircraft will have the ability to browse and buy exclusive deals via tablet, phone or laptop. Redemption codes are sent via text and email to a mobile device, and presented to the merchant to redeem the deal.

“We know our airline partners want to deliver the best inflight entertainment experience available, and that is why Row 44 seeks to provide even more innovative services that are meaningful to their passengers,” said Doug Walner, chief commercial officer for Row 44. “SwiftAir’s interactive travel guide is a tremendous complement to our platform as it gives passengers considerable access to their destination city and our airline partners yet another avenue to deliver a great inflight experience.”

Thousand Oaks, CA (March 23, 2010) – TECOM Industries, Inc. today announced that its customer, Row 44 (Westlake Village, CA), a provider of airborne broadband connectivity, will install TECOM Industries’ KuStream™ 1000 antenna system on Southwest Airlines’ commercial fleet. In January 2010, Southwest Airlines announced plans to equip more than 500 aircraft with Row 44’s In-flight Broadband Connectivity System.

The KuStream 1000 antenna system enables the Row 44 In-flight Broadband Connectivity System to provide passengers with live entertainment and communication, including high data rate applications such as full Internet access, VoIP services, cell phone roaming (via pico-cells in markets with appropriate regulation) and live television using IPTV. The KuStream 1000 is a joint development effort of TECOM Industries and QEST Quantenelektronische Systeme GmbH of Germany. QEST contributed core RF components such as the antenna aperture and the polarization control module, with TECOM contributing systems engineering, antenna positioning and control subsystems, product qualification, certification and after-sale support.

Arsen Melconian, President of TECOM, said: “This selection by Row 44 validates our technical approach and is an acknowledgement of the hard work accomplished by the development team, our partner QEST, and all the major vendors. I am extremely pleased about this installation and this is a major event for TECOM.”

“After careful evaluation, Row 44 selected the TECOM KuStream antenna system,” said John Guidon, CEO of Row 44. “We are pleased to have them as our supplier for the Southwest Airlines program.”

The KuStream 1000 has received FCC licensing for airborne transmit and receive. TECOM has completed the requirements for environmental qualification of the KuStream 1000 and has applied for FAA Parts Manufacture Approval.

DALLAS, Aug 21, 2009 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ — Southwest Airlines and Row 44 are continuing plans to roll out wi-fi beginning in the first quarter of 2010. Beginning this fall, Southwest will be moving to the next step of certifying Southwest’s full fleet with plans to begin fleetwide rollout of the Row 44 satellite service in the first quarter of 2010. The airline has been testing the service on four aircraft since Feb. 2009 and has received fantastic Customer feedback on the product.

“We have concluded our testing for inflight wi-fi and are very happy with both the technical performance of the system and the response of Customers who have used it,” said Dave Ridley, Southwest Airlines Senior Vice President of Marketing and Revenue Management. “We are pleased to be continuing with our plans to offer satellite-enabled broadband access through California-based Row 44.”

“Row 44 is thrilled to be the in-flight wi-fi service of choice for one of the most Customer-focused airlines in the world,” said John Guidon, Row 44 Chief Executive Officer. “We are excited about moving forward and delivering Southwest’s Customers a rich menu of in-flight connectivity and entertainment options.”

During the testing phase, Customers have been utilizing the service for anything from e-mail to streaming video. Those interested in using the service during the test period have had the opportunity to log on to the service via their own personal wi-fi enabled device (laptops, iPhones, wi-fi enabled smart phones, etc). Additionally, the airline has been testing a variety of price points for the service and will continue testing price points through the end of 2009.

Southwest Airlines is the most productive airline in the sky and offers Customers a comfortable traveling experience. Southwest offers a very comfortable ride with all premium leather seats and plenty of legroom with a young all-Boeing 737 fleet. Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV), the nation’s largest carrier in terms of domestic passengers enplaned, currently serves 67 cities (with service to Milwaukee starting Nov. 1, 2009) in 34 states. Based in Dallas, Southwest currently operates more than 3,200 flights a day and has more than 35,000 Employees systemwide.