Southwest offers free access to iTunes via wireless in-flight portal

airlinetrends.com | February 28, 2011

Southwest Airlines has partnered with Apple to create an entertainment download store called InAirtainment. To be used in the air or on the ground, the service takes the form of a website through which people can browse for music, movies or TV shows hosted on iTunes. Southwest says is it is receiving a small royalty from each download, which may be 5 percent if the airline is enrolled in the normal iTunes affiliate program. To promote InAirtainment, Southwest currently offers a playlist of 20 free songs from acts “about to fly” in their careers. 

Asked whether the main goal for the InAirtainment service is to provide Southwest passengers with an alternative for in-flight entertainment, a Southwest spokeswoman said that “Our goal is to make southwest.com an one stop shop for all travel needs. Besides the option to book flights, car rentals, and hotels on our site, customers now have access to InAirtainment where they can download all their music and movies before they depart. Southwest.com is also available free of charge for customers on board our Wi-Fi-enabled aircraft. InAirtainment is a page within southwest.com, so customers are able to access the content free of charge in-flight.” 

Gogo Video
The option to access iTunes for free on Southwest flights may be a sign of new in-flight entertainment options to come. For example, in-flight Wi-Fi provider Aircell last year announced plans for an in-flight video downloading service, called Gogo Video. This service would give passengers on Gogo-equipped aircraft (which number nearly 1,100 in North America) the ability to download movie and television content from an onboard server to their laptops via a portal similar to iTunes. According to in-flight entertainment expert Mary Kirby, Gogo however has delayed the introduction of the video service in order to further perfect it. 

In-flight Internet portal
Southwest Airlines currently offers Row 44’s satellite-based Wi-Fi internet onboard 65 aircraft for an introductory price of USD 5, with installation on the airline’s 540-strong fleet to be completed by 2013. Passengers on Southwest can also use the onboard connectivity to get access to an in-flight wireless portal at no charge that houses limited content, including a flight tracker, shopping (Skymall, HSN), games, plus access to the southwest.com website. 

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Aircell’s Gogo to introduce wireless in-flight video service
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