Having learned that Lumexis has secured a deal with a 737 operator for its fiber optics-based in-flight entertainment system, our friend Dan Webb over at Boarding Area blog “Things in the Sky” is hoping that the undisclosed carrier turns out to be Southwest Airlines.
Read his entire guest blog here. Do you agree with Dan?
I love Southwest Airlines for a few reasons. Southwest is the largest carrier out of my home airport (Providence – PVD), offering the largest number of nonstop destinations and a convenient schedule. But I also love the Dallas-based carrier because I think it provides some of the best customer service among its competitors. I say that both as a Southwest customer, and a blogger, as Southwest is one of the few airlines that is very responsive to those in the “new media.”
When Lumexis announced that an airline with a 737 fleet had become the firm’s first customer, I naturally began to hope that my airline of choice was the mystery airline. I have always hoped that Southwest would install some kind of entertainment system throughout its fleet. In fact, I resorted to pretending that was the case during a recent trip this summer!
While IFE would certainly be a marked change in Southwest’s business model, I think it could be a fit for the airline. Southwest originally focused on shorter hauls, where the lack of entertainment didn’t make as much of a difference. (Southwest co-founder Lamar Muse also noted that passengers seated in aisle seats would get a nice view thanks to flight attendants in hot pants.) But these days, Southwest has some pretty long trips, such as Providence to Las Vegas, which clocks in at 6:15.
Granted, that’s one of the longest flights in the Southwest system, but based on the airline’s latest traffic numbers, the average southwest flight is now 838 miles, about 14.5% longer than five years ago.
Southwest has emphasized of adding value for customers, and some kind of IFE would certainly be a way to do that. Southwest could certainly find it appealing if it were convinced that it would attract new customers, and if such a system could be used to increase ancillary revenue.
NOTE: Southwest has said it intends to offer Row 44′s high-speed in-flight connectivity solution across its entire fleet, and that it believes this will meet the entertainment needs of passengers (as it will support streaming video, etc).