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Southwest & Dish to provide passengers in-flight entertainment via Apple's iPad 2

Satellite television provider Dish and stalwart low-cost airline Southwest on Tuesday announced an extension of their partnership that will see Dish lend iPad 2 tablets to passengers for use during flights on certain routes.

Photo from Flickr user Aero Icarus

The program will be available to passengers on Wi-Fi-enabled flights between Chicago-Midway, Denver, and Oakland airports, the companies said in a release. Passengers will be able to check out an iPad 2 at in-terminal Dish kiosks prior to departure and return the iPad at the corresponding kiosk on arrival.

The lending program is part of a Dish and Southwest promotion entitled "TV Flies Free," which lets travelers watch live television and on-demand programming for no cost, and borrowing an iPad will not incur any additional fee.

Dish Chief Marketing Officer James Moorhead said that the companies wanted to "give travelers the chance to relax and enjoy their favorite programming, whether in the air on Southwest or on the ground," predicting that the lending program would "provide a great entertainment experience."

Travelers have been able to watch live television on their own WiFi-enabled devices through the "TV Flies Free" promotion since July.

Tablets, and iPads in particular, are taking the aviation industry by storm. Companies like Qantas and Hawaiian Airlines have already deployed iPads and iPad minis for on-board entertainment, while many others —  including heavyweights American Airlines and United —  have chosen Apple's slate for cockpit use, replacing cumbersome paper manuals and charts for pilots.