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Southwest ups in-flight viewing with on-demand TV and movies

Besides live television streaming, the Dallas-based airline rolls out more on-board entertainment through its Wi-Fi network.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
Southwest Airlines now offers on-demand movies and television. Southwest Airlines

People flying on Southwest Airlines can now watch on-demand movies and TV on their tablets, smartphones, and laptops via the planes' Wi-Fi.

The airline announced today that it's boosting its in-flight entertainment to include new movie and television packages. This feature is available on all Wi-Fi-equipped aircrafts, which is about 75 percent of the Southwest's fleet.

"Providing a comprehensive and robust in-flight connectivity system for our customers is paramount," Southwest Airlines' senior vice president of business development Dave Ridley said in a statement.

Southwest now boasts eight channels of live television, which customers can stream directly on their devices. As of today, the airline will also offer on-demand episodes of popular TV shows.

The on-demand feature comes for a small fee, however. One movie costs $5 per device and the TV package is $5 per day per device. Just Wi-Fi is $8 per day per device.

Southwest outfitted its planes with Wi-Fi by using Row 44 satellite technology. Customers can connect to the service by clicking "southwestwifi" from the Wi-Fi networks listed on their personal devices. From there, users can select Wi-Fi, movies, or television.

Several airlines have been expanding their Wi-Fi and in-flight entertainment options over the past couple of years. JetBlue announced last fall that it would be launching fast free in-flight Wi-Fi in 2013 for an initial trial period. And, in 2011, Virgin America stepped up its Wi-Fi service by offering Gogo's next-generation ATG-4 service.