Southwest Plans Cabin Connectivity Upgrades

Credit: Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines’ recently announced cabin upgrade initiative is progressing with a new cabin connectivity deal. The airline has signed an agreement with Astronics Corporation for its Empower Passenger In-Seat Power System, which it plans to install on its 475 Boeing 737-7 and -8 aircraft.

The Empower system provides 60 watt Type-C and 10.5 watt Type-A USB charging ports at every seat, giving passengers multiple electronic device charging options. According to Tony Roach, vice president of customer experience and customer relations at Southwest, the Empower system was chosen due to its “space-saving system architecture that does not compromise legroom.”

The Astronics Connectivity Systems and Certification group will provide Southwest with the installation design, supplemental type certificate and installation kits for the seat retrofits. It will begin delivering the kits in the fourth quarter of 2022 for installation beginning in early 2023. The systems will also be installed in 737 aircraft the airline has on order. Astronics will provide deliveries to Boeing for line fit installations in 2023.

In addition to the in-seat power installations, Southwest’s cabin upgrade initiative will also include enhancing Wi-Fi and overhead bin space. It is planning to upgrade Wi-Fi equipment on its existing fleet with Anuvu’s latest-generation hardware. Southwest says the new hardware will provide up to 10 times better speed and bandwidth compared to the hardware currently installed on its aircraft.

The airline has not shared details about which product it has chosen for larger overhead bins, but it says the bins will be on aircraft deliveries beginning in early 2023.

Lindsay Bjerregaard

Lindsay Bjerregaard is managing editor for Aviation Week’s MRO portfolio. Her coverage focuses on MRO technology, workforce, and product and service news for, Aviation Week Marketplace and Inside MRO.