Travelers on Southwest Airlines can now iMessage during their flights for $2.
The airline announced Wednesday it had launched gate-to-gate text messaging on all Wi-Fi-installed aircraft. The new service enables passengers with Apple devices operating on iOS 5 or later the ability to iMessage gate-to-gate for $2 a day.
Android messaging apps will be added early in 2014.
Southwest said it was the first U.S. carrier to offer messaging on all phases of flight and the only airline offering in-flight Wi-Fi below 10,000 feet. Wi-Fi is currently available on 435 Southwest planes.
“It is our pleasure to say that regardless of whether we’re parked at the gate or flying at 30,000 feet in the air, we are able to provide a truly robust entertainment and connectivity service for our passengers,” said Kevin Krone, Southwest Airlines Chief Marketing Officer.
To use iMessaging during a flight, travelers need to switch their phones to airplane mode and connect to the Southwest Wi-Fi network.
From the Wi-Fi portal homepage, Apple users with devices operating iOS 5 or later can select “Messaging” from the “Connect” tab and pay $2 for all-day texting. (Wi-Fi is still available for $8 all day per device and texting is included automatically.)
Customers can then send messages gate-to-gate as if they never left the ground.
Southwest is offering the new service along with its in-flight entertainment and connectivity partner, Global Eagle Entertainment.
“When the ban on in-flight connectivity below 10,000 feet was lifted, we knew we were in a great position to take some significant strides in terms of passenger experience with Southwest Airlines,” said John LaValle, Global Eagle Entertainment's chief executive.
“Our messaging service breaks new ground, and embraces the changing face of communication, one where texting has already surpassed voice calls as the preferred method of phone use among young adults, and continues to grow.”