With the FAA now easing restrictions on electronic devices that can be used in all phases of flights, airlines are moving to offer WiFi service during more of the flight. Southwest Airlines has announced that it will become the first carrier in the US to provide passengers with gate-to-gate WiFi service. Southwest is likely to have the distinction of being the only carrier to offer this service for a while.
Southwest uses satellite tech for its in-flight WiFi service that differs for the Gogo technology used by most airlines. Gogo uses air to ground technology that means it has to be in the air for the WiFi service to function.
Gogo announced that it is working on enabling passengers to make voice calls and to send text messages during flights. The odds of the voice call function coming to flights in the US are slim. Southwest on the other hand uses a satellite-based system from a company called Row 44.
With the availability of WiFi service gate-to-gate on Southwest flights and the ability to use smartphones and tablets in all phases of flight, passengers no longer have to stop their favorite movie until its time to get off the airplane. It’s unclear what portion of Southwest flights will offer gate-to-gate WiFi at this time.