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October 19, 2009

Virgin America and Google to Offer Free In-Flight WiFi During Holiday Season

By Marisa Torrieri, TMCnet Editor
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. But with today’s recovering economy, holiday time may also be the most financially stressful time of the year, too. At least if you’re traveling with Virgin America, you’ll be able to save a few bucks for good eggnog.
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The two-year-old airline today announced it will waive its in-flight WiFi fee to all fliers during the holidays. Thanks to an exclusive partnership with Google (News - Alert), all guests who fly from Nov. 10, 2009, to Jan. 15, 2010, will be able to check e-mail, gift-shop online and do all things Web-related for free. Normally, guests pay $12.95 for WiFi (News - Alert) access for flights greater than three hours; $9.95 for flights between 1.5 and three hours; $5.95 for short-haul flights of fewer than 1.5 hours and $7.95 for smartphone-based WiFi (for flights greater than 1.5 hours).
 
“As millions of people pass through airports this holiday season in order to celebrate with their families, we wanted to give our users a gift – one that makes their travel easier and more convenient,” said Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience at Google, in a press statement. “The fundamental power of the Internet is in connecting people and we hope that having a free WiFi connection while en route will make home and family see that much closer.”
 
Since May of 2009, when the airline completed the rollout of its WiFi service across its fleet, the service has become increasingly popular.
 
This isn’t the first time Virgin America has teamed up with Google for WiFi stuff. In June, the airline also teamed up with the Internet search engine for the first-ever online “in the clouds” Web-based scavenger hunt, using in-Flight WiFi.
 
Although TMCnet reported the June “scavenger hunt” didn’t work for some users in its first few hours, technical issues were resolved for later flights.
 
Since June, the airline has reported a 99 percent reliability rate.

Marisa Torrieri is a TMCnet Editor. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Marisa Torrieri