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November 06, 2009

Google, Virgin America Team Up to Offer Free Wi-Fi for the Holidays

By Erin Harrison, Senior Editor
This holiday season if you are flying Virgin America, expect to get a present. The two-year-old airline has teamed up with Google (News - Alert) to offer customers free in-flight Wi-Fi between Nov.10, 2009 and Jan. 15, 2010.
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Fliers who bring a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop or mobile device can stay connected for free during flight. The airline estimates that currently 12 to 15 percent of its guests are using the GoGo service. On some of the airline’s long-haul routes – such as Boston to San Francisco – the carrier is reporting that up to 20 to 25 percent of guests on a given flight are logging in.
 
For flights less than 1.5 hours and red eyes the normal charge is normally $5.95 per flight; for flights between 1.5 and three hours, $9.95 and for flight over three hours, the fee is $12.95 per flight.
 
“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 Wi-Fi connection while en route will make home and family see that much closer.”
 
Now offered in-flight on several airlines, Gogo Wi-Fi allows guests to stay connected to business, family and friends while flying. Each paid Gogo session includes full internet, VPN and e-mail access. From the sign in page, American Airlines offers complimentary AA.com, The Wall Street Journal Online Headlines and Frommers destination guides.
 
According to a recent Notebooks.com article, due in part to the large push by Virgin, eight airlines now offer in-flight Wi-Fi on at least some of their planes. While there are eight airlines offering Wi-Fi, there are actually three different companies – Live TV, Row 44 and Gogo – that provide the service to airlines, and their speeds and abilities vary greatly.

Erin Harrison is a senior editor with TMCnet, primarily covering telecom expense management, politics and technology and Web 2.0. She serves as senior editor for TMC's print publications, including "Internet Telephony (News - Alert)", "Customer Interaction Solutions", "Unified Communications" and "NGN" magazines. Erin also oversees production of TMCnet's weekly iPhone e-Newsletter. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison