Southwest Airlines adds free in-flight messaging

Dawn Gilbertson
A Southwest Airlines jet leaves Midway Airport in Chicago, Illinois.
Scott Olson | Getty Images

Can't stand being out of touch at 35,000 feet but don't want to pay for pricey in-flight Wi-Fi?

Try instant messaging.

Southwest Airlines is the latest carrier to offer free in-flight messaging. The airline had been charging $2 per flight for the service since 2013, a price that is still listed on the airline's website.

More from USA Today:

Southwest Airlines User's Guide

Southwest seat saving drives some passengers crazy

Southwest Airlines increases early bird boarding fee

The carrier, the USA's top carrier of domestic passengers, began rolling out complimentary messaging on select aircraft with Wi-Fi earlier this month, spokeswoman Michelle Agnew said. Passengers can send instant messages via iMessage and WhatsApp as long as they download the apps before the flight. (Passengers who purchase the airline's $8 in-flight internet service already get messaging for free.) The airline said travelers can find out if the free messaging is available on their flight by checking Southwest's in-flight entertainment portal on their device.

Southwest is not the first to offer free messaging

Delta Air Lines started offering free mobile messaging on Wi-Fi-equipped flights a year ago. It works with iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Alaska Airlines was first U.S. carrier to introduce free messaging, in early 2017.

American Airlines planned to offer free messaging, announcing the service a year ago, but never implemented it. The carrier decided to focus on other in-flight entertainment, including free live TV, spokesman Joshua Freed said.

United has free messaging on some aircraft, according to spokeswoman Maddie King, and is looking at expanding it throughout the fleet.

WATCH: Here's how and why airlines bump passengers

Here’s how and why airlines bump passengers
Here’s how and why airlines bump passengers