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Southwest upgrading planes with faster Wi-Fi, greater overhead bins

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Southwest Airlines said it’ll spend greater than $2 billion on improved passenger amenities like greater overhead bins, faster web and power outlets “in every seat,” in an effort to woo travelers as bookings rebound.

The airline also plans to double the number of flicks it offers travelers and to update its drink options on board to incorporate bloody mary mix, ready-to-drink cocktails, hard seltzer and rose wine.

The changes come as airlines gear up for a recovery in each leisure and business travel after greater than two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

United Airlines, for instance, announced last 12 months a bunch of cabin upgrades like recent seatback screens and entertainment systems. It, too, is preparing cabins for larger overhead bins. Delta Air Lines is installing recent seats for domestic first-class and has said it goals to supply free web in the long run. And Hawaiian Airlines plans to supply complimentary Wi-Fi through SpaceX’s Starlink service as early as next 12 months.

Southwest’s $2 billion investment will span five years and is a component of an estimated capital expenditure of $3.5 billion per 12 months on average through 2026, as announced in December. The changes are geared toward all customers, but Southwest has recently increased its efforts to sell to business travelers.

The airline in March announced a recent, second-cheapest fare option for travelers willing to pay more for more flexibility. Last week, it told staff it’ll temporarily offer travelers free Wi-Fi on some flights because it tests recent hardware that goals to bring higher speeds to more passengers, CNBC reported.

The carrier also said it recently entered into an agreement with satellite web provider Viasat for in-flight connectivity as early as this fall, starting with recent deliveries of 737 Max planes. Southwest offers web for $8 a day and doesn’t currently have plans to make the access free beyond the hardware test.

Southwest, which has a fleet of greater than 700 Boeing 737s, estimates it’ll have in-seat power, something it currently doesn’t offer, on about 250 planes by the top of 2023. The facility outlets shall be available starting early next 12 months on Max planes and have USB A and USB C power ports.

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