Southwest's inflight TV beats Frontier's

Southwest Airlines plane on several different-sized screensA few weeks ago, I posted a list of Frontier Airlines’ inflight TV channels, but I never got around to posting a list of the TV channels that I had available on my Southwest Airlines return flight.

As with the Frontier list, I couldn’t find anything online that actually provided the names of each channel. On a page on the Southwest site, it mentions “17 live channels,” which is a very specific number. As far as I can tell, it’s also accurate. Here are the live channels I saw:

Fox News
Food Network
Animal Planet
Fox Business
Travel Channel
NFL Network (for real this time)

* That is not the MLB Network; it showed live major league baseball games as served up by

As with Frontier, only ABC is missing from the Big Four broadcast networks. There aren’t as many live channels, but I appreciate getting the Travel Channel and the real NFL Network. Southwest also offers a bunch of on-demand TV episodes while Frontier adds a couple of passive channels of TV shows and movies. Based on the lineups alone, Frontier and Southwest are pretty similar.

There are two big advantages for watching TV on Southwest. Thanks to a promotion with Dish Network, which provides the programming, all those channels are free to watch. And instead of being stuck with a phone-sized standard-definition screen mounted in the seat back, these channels are streamed over inflight WiFi to the carry-on device of your choice. I saw a lot of passengers watching on laptops and tablets, all of which had better picture quality than the pioneering Frontier screens.

So there you have it. If you really want to know what to expect to watch for free on your next Southwest flight, that list will probably stay good for the rest of 2014 and maybe longer. Bring your tablet and enjoy the ride.