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

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 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. is also available free of charge for customers on board our Wi-Fi-enabled aircraft. InAirtainment is a page within, 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. 
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Innovative airlines 2011: #6 Southwest Airlines

At number 6 is Southwest Airlines (airline code: LUV), which carries more domestic passengers than any other airline in the U.S, and has evolved from a quirky regional airline to a national powerhouse without losing its startup, fun culture. Southwest is widely regarded as one of the most customer-centric airlines in the industry, encouraging its employees to make a difference. Southwest President Colleen Barrett describes a Southwest employee as someone “who dares to make mistakes; dares to be different; finds a way to utilize people’s special talents; and lives a little on the edge” (witness the Southwest pilot who recently held his plane so a passenger on his way to a funeral could make it, or the airline’s famous rapping flight attendant David Holmes).

Southwest is one of the very few U.S. airlines to go against the industry trend of charging for an increasing number of amenities. For example, the airline is the only major U.S. carrier that doesn’t charge to check a first and second bag which, according to a spokeswoman, is now among the top five reasons for customers to choose Southwest. Using its most visible assets as billboards, the airline put a ‘Free Bags Fly Here’ slogan on more than 50 aircraft with an arrow pointing to the cargo bin and tagged 1,000 luggage carts across its network with banners that say “I Carry Free Bags.”

Southwest also offers passengers that happen to be onboard during specific festivities an alcoholic beverage from the in-flight menu ‘on the house’. For example, in May 2010, Southwest offered Moms a free drink of their choice on Mothers Day, while service personal with military ID received a complimentary drink on Memorial Day.

As part of Southwest’s philosophy to give back to society, the airline’s ‘Share the Spirit’ program encourages employees to embrace local charities and nonprofits in destinations across its network. To pay tribute to its employee volunteers, Southwest in 2010 introduced ‘Tickets for Time’ which, for every 40 hours a Southwest volunteer dedicates to an organization, provides one complimentary roundtrip ticket on Southwest for fund-raising or transportation needs. Read full article »

Southwest shows its LUV to Denver with free pedicab rides and a downtown cafe

With 144 daily nonstop flights to 42 destinations, Denver (Colorado) is the fifth largest airport in terms of departures for Southwest Airlines (airline code: LUV). According to the airline’s CEO Gary Keller, Denver is “very important to Southwest as it is the fastest-expanding market in Southwest’s 40-year history.” Since Southwest’s competitors in Denver — United and Frontier — are distracted with either merger or restructuring activities, Dallas-based Southwest is taking its chance to establish itself as Denver’s new hometown carrier. 

In July 2010, Southwest launched a Denver-specific advertising campaign professing its dedication to the market with a tagline of, “Say Yes, Denver!”. The ads starred the airline’s local Denver employees which asked the public, “Denver, will you fly us?” To further back its commitment to Denver, Southwest is aligning itself with the city by supporting a host of community organizations, as well as a series of free ‘brand butler’ services, such as free pedicab rides. Says the airline, “At Southwest Airlines, we make it our mission to become engaged and involved in the communities that we serve in a meaningful and relevant way”. 

The Southwest Porch
This summer, Southwest sponsored concerts and movies (including free cupcakes) in Downtown Denver’s Skyline Park, and from July to December 2010 offers free pedicab rides to and from events across the city. In September 2010, Southwest also opened ‘The Southwest Porch at Skyline Park’ at the base of Denver’s historic Daniels and Fisher Tower. The Southwest Porch is an year-round outdoor lounge where Denverites can relax and enjoy pizza and drinks from local suppliers. Read full article »

Southwest ‘plane-vertises’ its bags fly free policy

While some low-cost airlines don’t shy away from turning their aircraft into flying billboards, Southwest Airlines is using its most visible assets – airplanes and ground support equipment – in an innovative way to advertize its ‘Bags Fly Free’ policy. The airline has put a “Free Bags Fly Here” slogan on more than 50 aircraft with an arrow pointing to the cargo bin, and also tagged around 1,000 luggage carts across its network with banners that say “I Carry Free Bags.”

Aimed at anyone who looks out the terminal window or the window from their airplane, Southwest’s ‘planevertising’ initiative is a smart way to target people at the time when they are most unhappy about having had to pay bag fees.  
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Free giftwrapping LUV from Southwest and The Container Store

Packed with gifts for Christmas, many people across the U.S will be traveling by air this week. However, the Transportation Security Administration is asking air travelers to leave their gifts unwrapped in case they require secondary screening at the security checkpoint.

As in previous years, Southwest and home & office storage retailer The Container Store have teamed up to offer travelers a free gift wrapping service in the post-security areas at five airports across the U.S. Last Monday, December 21st, passengers with unwrapped gifts (or those who do a little last minute shopping at the airport) that travel through Baltimore-Washington, Dallas Love Field, Denver International, Phoenix Sky Harbor, and Saint Louis Lambert airports, can stop by one of several designated gate areas to have their items wrapped. And, in the spirit of Christmas, travelers don’t have to fly Southwest to make use of the free service. Read full article »

Southwest’s ‘Green Plane’ to test eco-friendly interior materials


Southwest Airlines has designated a 4-year old Boeing 737-700 ‘Green Plane’ to serve as a test-aircraft for a series of sustainable interior materials. For example, a 100 percent recyclable carpet is installed in sections, eliminating the need for total replacement of areas such as aisles, where Southwest currently uses 1 single piece of carpet. The carpet is returned to the manufacturer at the end of its service life and completely re-manufactured into new carpet. Also, two new leather seat covers (one recycled and one a leather substitute) will be tested, which are more durable and almost two pounds per seat lighter. To reduce weight, a lighter weight fill from foam in the back of the seats reduces weight, as well as life vest pouches made from canvas, instead of metal.

Overall, the uses more weigh-efficient materials  save the new plane approximately five pounds (2.3 kg) per seat, adding up to about a 472-pound (214 kg) difference, which is said to reduce 9,500 gallons (nearly 36,000 liters) of fuel each year. Additionally, Southwest expects the eco-friendly products to be more durable, which will save on materials and labor.
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