Google has partnered with AirTran, Delta and Virgin America to offer free inflight Wi-Fi service on all domestic flights during the upcoming holiday season. Google ran a similar programme last year that involved Virgin America only, and Google has also periodically offered free Wi-Fi to travellers in airports.
This year's programme provides free GoGo Inflight Wi-Fi on domestic flights between November 20 and January 2 on the three participating airlines.
Typically, GoGo charges between $5 and $13 for Internet access per flight, depending on the flight length, as well as monthly packages ranging from $30 to $40 and a "6 pack" for infrequent travelers that costs $50. There are also less expensive options for customers using only a mobile device, rather than a laptop.
Although the free inflight promotion must be costing Google some money, the goodwill earned with customers as well as the extra advertising revenue driven by travellers doing Google searches could make the promotion well worth it for Sergey Brin and Larry Page.
Google's also encouraging users to download Google Chrome, but the free inflight Wi-Fi would presumably work with any web browser.
Google has also faced controversy because its Street View programme was collecting data from open Wi-Fi networks, but the US Federal Trade Commission declined to take action against Google after an investigation.
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