Southwest WiFi Doesn’t Fly

Southwest BOI->LAS RTT 8/30/13I love the fact that Southwest is rolling out WiFi to their fleet.  More and more flights I am on of theirs have WiFi and is great when I am in a pinch to get some work done.

However, as the rollout has been increasing, so has packet RTT (round trip time).  I took a flight today from Boise to Las Vegas and had consistent RTT times of ~700ms.  From a flight between PHX and SFO, I had >20% packet loss and RTT between 1000ms and 5000ms.   Trace routes were blocked so I couldn’t see where the delay was taking place.  This meant web applications were pretty much unusable and email even took a long time to sync (and actually failed more times than worked).

I wrote a note to Southwest to make them aware of the issue, and they wrote a very nice and well thought out response.  They indicated that their engineers are aware of the issue and are working to resolve the problem.  As usual with Southwest, I was very impressed with their through response and they even gave me free WiFi access to use within the next year.

That said, if you are reading this post wondering if you should pay those 8 hard-earned-dollars for WiFi, you just may want to hold off a few months while they work out those kinks.  This has been an issue for me for over the last month or two, so progress appears to be slow.

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