Guide to Southwest Airlines Wifi & In-Flight Entertainment

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Gone are the days when you had to endure an entire flight without much entertainment.

Do you remember when you had to bring a physical book or magazine? Or when you had to lug around a portable CD player or walkman complete with a bunch of tapes or CDs (and batteries!)?

While I might be dating myself, I am thankful that there are so many more options available today.

I’ve written a lot about Southwest Airlines in the past, and they are my favorite domestic airline. My love affair with Southwest continues when it comes to their inflight entertainment, much of which is free!

Southwest Inflight Entertainment

Southwest offers an inflight entertainment portal that includes many free features. You can watch live and on-demand TV, watch movies, listen to music, and follow along with the flight tracker so you know just how much flight time remains.

While not all of Southwest’s planes are Wi-Fi enabled, I have found that a majority of them are. I fly Southwest a lot, and have only come across 1 plane that did not offer Wi-Fi.

Southwest Wifi banner
Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

Keep in mind that the free inflight entertainment and even the movies you pay for are NOT available on international flights. However, you can generally use the Wi-Fi until you actually cross an international border.

How to Access Wi-Fi on Your Southwest Flight

  1. Turn on your Wi-Fi enabled device and set it to airplane mode. Make sure your Wi-Fi is still on while in airplane mode.
  2. Go to your available wireless networks and select “Southwest WiFi” to connect.
  3. Launch your Internet browser for immediate access to the Southwest Airlines Hotspot portal, or type www.southwestwifi.com in the address bar.

    Southwest WiFi
    The Southwest inflight entertainment portal offers a flight tracker, free live TV, free on demand TV, free music, movies for $5 each, and access to the internet for $8 per device. Image courtesy of Southwestwifi.com

Cost of Wi-Fi on Southwest Airlines

You can access the internet on a Wi-Fi enabled aircraft for $8 per day per device. This gets you access to browse the web, check emails, or access social media. However, Southwest also offers some inflight entertainment free of charge.

Free Live TV

The Southwest inflight entertainment portal offers lots of free entertainment during your flight, including 16 live TV channels:

  • Bravo
  • MSNBC
  • CNBC
  • CBS2
  • Fox5
  • Fox News
  • NFL Network
  • HGTV
  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • NBC 4
  • FX
  • Discovery
  • USA
  • Disney
  • CNN

Free On Demand TV

There is also a selection of free on demand TV shows available to view during your flight. These change occasionally, but have included shows like Cake Boss and Who Do You Think You Are.

If you’re lucky, you’ll be flying during Shark Week! In addition to offering an array of shark-centric documentaries that will make your time in the air fly by, Southwest celebrates like no other airline can!

Movies

To view movies, you will need to download the Airtime Player app from the App Store or Google Play store prior to departure.

Movies cost $5 per movie per device and are available for the entire day of purchase.

You can view a movie during multiple flights on the same day, so there is no need to worry about finishing your movie before your layover.

Music

You can listen to music during your flight for free with iHeartRadio and Southwest.fm. This is a new feature, and it’s only available on select aircraft now.

You can also listen free through your pre-downloaded iHeartRadio app without having to purchase inflight Wi-Fi.

Messaging

If you would like an inexpensive way to stay in contact with your friends and family during your flight, you can purchase a Messaging package for $2 per day per device. This allows you to access messaging apps like iMessage, WhatsApp, and Viber.

Be sure to download your chosen app before your flight. Messaging capabilities are also included in the full internet access package for $8.

Bottom Line: The Southwest inflight entertainment portal offers free live and on demand TV and music. An all-day internet package will cost $8 per device — or you can purchase a movie for $5 per device per day, or spend just $2 for messaging capabilities.

How to Connect to Southwest Wi-Fi

Required Devices

Before you board your flight, make sure you have a compatible device. Most of us probably carry at least 1 of these with us at all times!

  • Laptops and Macs
    • Operating System: Windows 7 or higher; OSX 10.9 or higher
    • Browser: Internet Explorer 10 or higher; Firefox version 47 or higher; Google Chrome version 51 or higher, Safari version 9 or higher
  • iOS Mobile and Tablets
    • Operating System: iOS 9.0 and above
    • Plug-In: Airtime app available for free from Apple App Store
  • Android Mobile and Tablets
    • Operating System: Android 5.0 and above
    • Plug-In: Airtime app available for free from Google Play Store

Hot Tip: Be sure to download the free Airtime Player app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store before you board your flight!

How to Get FREE Wi-Fi on a Southwest Flight

Wi-Fi is great…but it’s better when it’s free, right? Thankfully, Southwest offers much of its inflight entertainment free to everyone.

Free Wi-Fi Entertainment

Much of the Wi-Fi enabled inflight entertainment is already free on Southwest flights. You will have access to on demand and live TV for free, plus access to iHeartRadio music stations.

To access Wi-Fi for browsing the web, you’ll need to pay $8 per day per device.

Earn A-List Preferred Status

If you are an A-List Preferred member, you can access Southwest Wi-Fi without the $8 per day charge.

Southwest A List Preferred
Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

To earn A-List Preferred status, you need to fly 50 qualifying one-way flights or earn 70,000 tier qualifying points in a calendar year.

Tier qualifying points are earned from purchasing a revenue flight or by using the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit CardChase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, or Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.

Both the business and personal versions of these cards earn tier qualifying points.

Bottom Line: Southwest Airlines waives the $8 per day per device Wi-Fi fee for A-List Preferred Status members.

Final Thoughts

Southwest does a lot of things right, including free checked bags and not charging fees to change your flight.

They also offer lots of free inflight entertainment including live TV, on demand TV, and music.

If you would prefer full access to the internet, you can purchase a day pass for $8, though loyal Southwest customers who achieve A-List Preferred status get this fee waived.


Featured Image Credit: aradaphotography/Shutterstock

FAQ

How much does Wi-Fi cost on a Southwest Airlines flight?

You can purchase an internet package for $8 per day per device to access the internet. You can purchase messaging capabilities for $2 per day per device. The charge to rent a movie is $5 per day per device. Southwest also offers free live and on demand TV plus music through their inflight entertainment portal.

How can I get free Wi-Fi on a Southwest flight?

Anyone can access free live and on demand TV plus music on any Wi-Fi enabled Southwest flight. If you are an A-List Preferred member, you can get the $8 fee for full internet waived.

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