By Hugo Martin
2:36 PM EDT, July 2, 2013
For the last few years, U.S.-based airlines have been adding new fees for many on-board products and services.
For good reason: Passenger fees generated $27.1 billion in revenue for the world's airlines last year.
Now comes a break from that pattern.
Southwest Airlines began this week offering free live television and more than 50 on-demand shows on most of its flights -- a service that the carrier had provided for $5 per day.
As of Monday, passengers on most Southwest flights can switch on their mobile devices and log into the plane's broadband signal to watch live television, sponsored by the satellite cable company, Dish Network.
Southwest began last summer to offer live TV, via satellite, but it charged passengers $5 per day and $5 per device.
The new free service is offered on 425 planes, or about 75% of the carrier's fleet that are equipped with satellite wireless Internet. Under the deal, Dish Network will be able to promote its home satellite services to Southwest passengers.
Southwest is not the first to offer free live television. Virgin America, Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways already provide the free service while other airlines offer free on-demand entertainment on seatback devices.
But Southwest officials say they are the first to offer free television on mobile devices brought on board by passengers.
"We started with Wi-Fi and now have expanded to television," said Kevin Krone, chief marketing officer at Southwest Airlines. "This new offer puts free television in the hands of our customers."
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