Virgin America And Google Offering Free In-Flight Wi-Fi For Holiday Season

Aircell's Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi has found its way into quite a few planes, though we can safely say that finding Internet on a plane is much like finding a needle in an ocean. But, to be fair, finding Internet on planes when flying Virgin America is a cinch--after all, it's one of the few airlines in the world to equip every last one of its planes with in-flight Wi-Fi.

In an effort to convince more people to make the long flights home to see relatives and grumpy in-laws this holiday season, the airline is teaming with Google in order to deliver free Wi-Fi to all those onboard. You read that correctly--FREE! The low-cost, high-style airline will be offering its Wi-Fi services gratis to passengers between November 10, 2009 and January 15, 2010. Even better, VA offers power outlets at every seat (not just those in first class), so you can rest assured that your laptop will stay powered on while you surf. Man, talk about flying the friendly skies again!

"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. "The fundamental power of the Internet is in connecting people, and we hope that having a free WiFi connection while enroute will make home and family seem that much closer."

A recent survey of Virgin America frequent fliers showed that guests are using WiFi in a variety of ways and consider the ability to stay connected a key in-flight amenity.   Top-line results from the survey* include:

  • More than half of respondents said that the availability of WiFi would influence their choice of airline.
  • The availability of in-flight power outlets is also a factor for many in choosing to fly with Virgin America.
  • 72% agreed that VOIP should continue to be blocked to keep the cabin environment quiet.
  • 53% of respondents carry a laptop on board.  Of those that connected to Gogo, 88% used a laptop.
  • Email is the most popular activity while using in-flight WiFi, followed by working remotely and social media.

Although guests traveling on any of Virgin America’s over 100 daily flights from Nov. 10, 2009 - Jan. 15, 2010, will enjoy free web access via their laptops or PDAs, the Gogo service is normally available for $12.95 for flights of over three hours; $9.95 for flights between 1.5 and three hours; $5.95 for short haul flights of less than 1.5 hours and handheld/PDA pricing of $7.95 for flights over 1.5 hours.