If you've ever been in a situation where you really, really need to use your device on a plane, you're probably happy to know the FAA lifted restrictions recently allowing for broader use of devices and WiFi. Unfortunately, the new guidelines are subject to each carrier's whim, and they can allow or disallow them as they like. Southwest Airlines has taken the first step, and will now allow in-flight WiFi access gate-to-gate.
Of course, you'll still need to stow larger items like laptops, but it's a big step forward. The difference between Southwest and other airlines, at least in this regard, is the type of WiFi they use. Others like United or Delta use GoGo, which uses a land-based CDMA network, which points to the plane. Southwest uses a satellite system called Row 44, which uses the KU-Band, allowing it to receive signals while at the gate, or even taxiing.