Southwest Airlines announced Tuesday that it would test new aircraft-to-satellite technology that would allow passengers to access the Internet in flight.
Southwest will initially equip just one aircraft with Wi-Fi, but the Dallas-based carrier said it would add three additional aircraft to the test by early March.
"Internet connectivity has been high on our list of priorities for quite some time," said Dave Ridley, Southwest's senior vice president of marketing and revenue management, in a news release. "We look forward to the feedback from our customers."
The service will be free during the test period and will work on laptops and other portable devices, but not cellular technology.
Southwest did not specify when Internet access might be expanded to all flights, or if it would ultimately charge for the service.
The carrier is waiting for approval from the Federal Communications Commission to offer service beyond the trial.
Southwest is using technology from Row 44, which provides Internet service through a satellite link. American Airlines, which began offering Internet access on some coast-to-coast flights for a fee last summer, and other carriers are using technology that connects Internet users through ground-based signals.
Southwest said it is working with Yahoo Inc. to offer a home page with "destination-relevant content" during the flight.
Shares of Southwest rose 2 cents to $7.20 Tuesday.