Southwest Airlines has announced plans to invest $2 billion into “customer experience” upgrades to improve air travel for its passengers.
The Dallas-based airline made its announcement in anticipation of resurgent demand this summer following two years of poor ticket sales prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Southwest’s plans include enhanced Wi-Fi, new electronic charging ports on seats, larger overhead bins, new fare categories, and a wider selection of entertainment and refreshments available on flights.
In the press release announcing the upgrades, Southwest Airlines CEO Robert Jordan stated, “You can never stop working to get better.” He continued, “We have bold plans and significant investments to modernize and enhance the Southwest Experience.”
Southwest is currently testing its new Wi-Fi features on 40 of its jets. The test will run until June 10, but the airline intends to deploy the feature on 350 aircraft by the end of October this year, roughly half its entire fleet.
The enhanced Wi-Fi is currently free for those lucky passengers on the 40 upgraded jets, but CNBC reported the service will go back to the regular price of $8 per day once the test is complete.
New power ports will be available upon the delivery of new Boeing 737 MAX jets early next year. Seats will include slots for both traditional USB cables and USB-C cables. These new jets will also come with increased overhead storage space.
Unfortunately for air travelers, Southwest’s investment in these new amenities will come at an increase to its fares “in the low single-digits.”
Whatever future hardship this increase in airfare may cost Southwest’s passengers will likely pale in comparison to the present price spike plaguing the entire industry.