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 (but they fly to international destinations too). 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 and movies, 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 are free and available to be streamed at any time during your flight.

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.

Katie Seemann

About Katie Seemann

Katie is an Ohio native who caught the travel bug after spending a semester in college in Nottingham, England. In addition to exploring England, she visited Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands during that time and loved every minute of it (everything except the hostel in Scotland – that’s an experience she doesn’t intend on repeating!) In 2015, Katie discovered the world of points and miles, and since then she’s earned countless points and has an embarrassingly large number of credit cards in her wallet (which she needs a spreadsheet to keep track of!)

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19 comments

  1. jeff alley · October 20, 2018 · Reply

    I love the wifi, but every time I login from my phone and go to southwestwifi.com, I have to enter all of my credit card info. This is inconvenient prone to error as I’m typing on such a small keyboard. Can’t southwest just use my preferred card that is tied to my rewards account?
    Thanks,
    Jeff

    • Katie Seemann · October 22, 2018 · Reply

      Hi Jeff, I agree – it would be great if you could charge the wifi cost to a saved credit card! That would make it even more convenient.

  2. Raymond Ebanks · February 15, 2019 · Reply

    Why does my IP address say Los Angeles when I use Facebook on SouthWest’s inflight internet?

    • Hi Raymond, please be advised we are not Southwest Airlines, nor are we an IT company so we really have no idea as to why this is the case. Maybe another reader can help you out…

  3. Janine Christian · June 16, 2019 · Reply

    My husband has a Macbook and can’t watch movies on it on with Southwest. He can watch TV but movies will not work, any suggestions?

    • Hi Janine,

      Is this through the Southwest WiFi, or are you referring to movies that were downloaded to his laptop prior to the flight? Have you spoken with Southwest about this issue?

      • I’m having the same issue. I can watch TV but not movies streaming from airtime/Southwest app.

        • Hi Keely,

          Have you spoken with the Southwest service team about this issue? I’ve been able to watch movies without any issue through the Southwest app on my last few flights with them.

          • Have you watched movies on a MacBook? I watch movies also, but only the iOS devices work. The help says go to the app store and download Airtime or the free SW app (neither are available for OSx for Mac) just iOS for mobile devices. I have read the help online and it is inaccurate and not helpful. I have also reached out to SW, nothing back yet. Millions of Mac’s in use how can this be so hard on SW?

          • Hi Jeff,

            I have never tried watching anything on my MacBook. I usually just stream entertainment from my iPhone and have never had any issues. I’m shocked to hear that Southwest has not responded back to you, as they are usually pretty timely with their customer service. When did you reach out to them?

  4. Judy gordon · September 10, 2019 · Reply

    Can I access my Netflix account using southwest’s wifi while flying?

  5. Trey Hill · October 7, 2019 · Reply

    When I purchase wifi on the first plane, does it transfer to the next one because it’s “$8 per day”?

    • Andrew Kunesh · October 8, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Trey, you’re correct, your $8 internet fee will give you access to Wi-Fi on all Southwest flights taken within a 24-hour period. Thanks!

  6. Michele Moyer · October 8, 2019 · Reply

    Can I download an app on my HP tablet to watch the movies? I am having trouble figuring out how to do it. I was able to get it on my S8 phone. Your help would be greatly appreciated!

    • Katie Seemann · October 9, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Michele,
      You should be able to download the app to an HP tablet to watch the movies. Here are the requirements:

      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

  7. How do you get the apps on your laptop. I am able to get them on my phone but not my pc. I would like to be able to watch movies on a bigger screen while flying on Southwest.

    • Katie Seemann · October 10, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Heather,

      First make sure your laptop has the required operating system. Here’s that info:

      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

      If you’re still having trouble you might need to contact Southwest to see if they can help you. You can also try the Southwest Airlines forums to see if someone there might be able to help you: https://www.southwestaircommunity.com/

      Good luck.

  8. I can hook up to WiFi with iPad but inflight entertainment won’t load half the time and can’t watch movies half the time. I had updated the app a while back.

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