Live from 40,000+ feet: Southwest Airlines WiFi

Now, there's no excuse for your work to be lateMy flight tonight is a special wi-fi equipped Southwest Airlines jet with free wi-fi on-board. This post is hitting the ZDNet mother server via this aircraft as we cross over Colorado.

Now, there's no excuse for your work to be late

My flight tonight is a special wi-fi equipped Southwest Airlines jet with free wi-fi on-board. This post is hitting the ZDNet mother server via this aircraft as we cross over Colorado.

How’s it working? Pretty good!

To be honest, my expectations weren’t very high. I remember earlier air-borne technologies that never performed well and cost a fortune. Anyone ever do a phone call on one of those in-flight phones? I did once and quit. I couldn’t hear anything and I had to almost scream to be heard.

For SWA’s wi-fi, I’ve already checked email and surfed the web. I’ll be hitting the send button on this post in a minute. Hey, even the ads ZDNet places on my blog are loaded and their animation is working! Not bad….

Well, I’ve got some client work to finish. My review of this technology:

- It’s not blazing fast but definitely a viable answer to sending and receiving email. - I’m not sure you’ll want to watch streaming video over this or fire off a 10 mb email attachment - Would I use again? Absolutely.

*************** UPDATE ********************* The service works so well, I'm even getting most critical emails. In the last few minutes, I've apparently won a foreign lottery and might collect millions from someone's estate in Nigeria. Wow!

Sadly, I also got a few work emails, too.

I can think of two things SWA could do to make the experience even more complete:

- don't let seat backs recline. I can't surf the net when someone's cranked their seat back and the only view I have is of their dandruff and not my laptop screen. - put those power sockets under the seats like American Airlines does

************************************************* ***************** Additional Update ******************

After reading the comments to this post, I decided to add the following:

- Yes, I knew I was on a wifi flight. SWA sent me an email two days before departure advising me of this capability. I agree that when an airline promises a particular aircraft, it may not deliver it due to some mechanical or scheduling issue. But, this a brand-new service from SWA and I'm fairly sure that they wouldn't have promoted the service if they weren't pretty sure that they could deliver that aircraft the next day.

- Yes, a netbook is far preferable to a notebook on an airline. No argument there. Although I do enjoy the occasional DVD I can watch on my laptop on transcontinental flights. Many netbooks have no DVD player. Netbook or notebook, the real issue is the lack of personal space on airplanes. I don't want to watch video on IPods or netbooks. I'd like to stretch out and not be intruding on someone else's space (or vice versa). *************************************************

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