If You Want to Try Wifi Onboard, You’ll Have Plenty of Free Chances

It’s no surprise that when you make something completely free, people use it a lot more often than if you make them pay. Duh. And that’s why it’s not surprising to see airlines scrambling to find a way to offer wireless internet for free. Just in the last few days, we’ve seen three promotions that will let anyone log on from 30,000 feet without paying a dime.

First up was Virgin America. They teamed up with Google to offer the most robust opportunity so far. Wireless connectivity will be free for anyone traveling between November 10 and January 15. Just turn on your computer and follow the instructions.

Meanwhile, American has joined with Lexus to offer free wireless as well . . . but only for a week. Lexus is promoting a new line of cars with free wifi from now through November 7. Remember, American has wifi on a lot more aircraft than Virgin America, so this is still a sizable promotion. It’s just a lot shorter. And on this one, it’s not automatically free. You have to enter code 2010LEXUSLS.

The last one I’ve seen is from AirTran. They are being a little more conservative still. The deal on AirTran is that if you pay for wifi on one flight, you’ll get a second one free. That’s probably the least attractive of the three opportunities here, but the end goal is the same.

Airlines are trying to stimulate wifi use, and really they should. Remember, once an airline hits on a great idea, the others will jump in and copy. So those airlines that have wifi now will have a limited opportunity to showcase their differentation. Eventually, everyone will have this.

Getting people to try onboard wifi is something that the airlines hope can attract people to their airline. If they’re going to do it, now is the time.


15 Responses to If You Want to Try Wifi Onboard, You’ll Have Plenty of Free Chances

  1. Nate says:

    I just adore GoGo wireless. At first I thought I’d hate it, thinking I’d be stuck doing work the entire time I fly, but its been helping to pass the time, especially on Air Tran.

    But marketing it seems to be a different story – I’ve flown a number of BWI-BOS segments, and even when free I haven’t seen too many people fire up their laptops. The most surprising route was the 6am PIT-ATL leg, where I swear everyone in Business Class was using it… and also on my TYS-MCO legs.

    My only gripe to AirCell is why can’t they allow it to be used below 10,000 feet at airports like ATL – which is where most airplanes hold when waiting to land at ATL when things go bad. It would be nice to be able to use the airtran.com/delta.com websites to rebook yourself if you are #925 to land in bad weather, rather than rush the gate agents once you land to snag the absolute LAST seat to Dothan, Alabama. I think they’d get a heck of a lot more usage in situations like above.

  2. David SFeastbay says:

    You have to enter code 2010LEXUSLS

    I hate things were you have to do something special to take advantage of something. Are they going to advertise this code on the plane so people know about it? Sounds more like they will target American mileage holders (or high mileage holders since it’s Lexus) with emails with this code and the people who don’t fly alot, are mileage members, (or read their AA emails like me) will have to pay for the service. It that is the case you can expect to see your email inbox getting hit with Lexus emails all the time.

  3. David says:

    The funny thing is, for Google/Virgin, Chrome is not even listed as a supported browser. Must be an oversight :)

  4. frank says:

    It’s no surprise that when you make something completely free, people use it a lot more often than if you make them pay. Duh. And that’s why it’s not surprising to see airlines scrambling to find a way to offer wireless internet for free.
    =============================================

    Wasnt this temporary free offer really a grace period for these airlines to install it and work out any bugs that might happen. So, they wouldnt incur any customer service complains, while FREE?

    Nate, the 10,000 feet issue is FAR related. No electronic devices are permitted after that altitude.

  5. Phil Vincent says:

    Well, this assumes that one can actually use one’s computer. I am 6′-1″, 240 lb and my weapon of choice is a Latitude D800. Good luck using that on AirTran (I have tried). Or American. Or Delta, Or whichever.

    I’ll stick to paperbacks, thanks.

  6. DeltaDon says:

    Have Delta return to the former passenger service they provided in the past instead of the way they treat their customers now and maybe they will return to profitability sooner instead of gouging passenger with baggaage charges,standby charges etc.

  7. ndelregno says:

    Also, use the AATRYGOGO code for one time free. It worked several times for several people, but AirCell has fixed that loophole and it is now a one-time only (new-user) free code.

  8. ATLguy says:

    Actually it is free on AirTran thru the end of the year. When you log in, it comes up with a promo code to try it once for free AIRTRANTRYGOGO I believe, right there on the purchase page. They also have Go-Go folks in green shirts canvassing the gate areas of ATL handing out free promo codes.

  9. CF says:

    frank wrote:

    Wasnt this temporary free offer really a grace period for these airlines to install it and work out any bugs that might happen. So, they wouldnt incur any customer service complains, while FREE?

    No, some airlines did offer it free during testing, but we’re beyond that point now. These guys are just getting advertisers to pay for it instead of passengers.

    Phil Vincent wrote:

    Well, this assumes that one can actually use one’s computer. I am 6?-1?, 240 lb and my weapon of choice is a Latitude D800. Good luck using that on AirTran (I have tried). Or American. Or Delta, Or whichever.
    I’ll stick to paperbacks, thanks.

    Yeah, using a laptop on an AirTran 717 is something that is likely to cause severe pain and cramping. The 737 is somewhat better on them. But, remember that you can use your iPhone, BlackBerry, etc if you have wifi. That’s cheaper to use and it doesn’t require gymnastics to actually use it.

  10. i recently had the chance to try this out, both paid and non paid. i paid for wifi on a trip from dallas to detroit to watch the red wings play hockey. o the other hand, i had a first class seat on a flight to europe, during which they provided wifi for free! it makes time fly soooo fast!

  11. frank says:

    CF
    November 4th, 2009 at 7:51 am
    No, some airlines did offer it free during testing, but we’re beyond that point now. These guys are just getting advertisers to pay for it instead of passengers.
    =================================================

    Thanks. I had not heard that advertisers were willing to pay for the service, thus, allowing the airlines to add value to flying but not charging the passenger for the service. Revenue from advertisers would cover the cost of installing it, how interesting, since it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars PER PLANE.

  12. CF says:

    frank wrote:

    Thanks. I had not heard that advertisers were willing to pay for the service, thus, allowing the airlines to add value to flying but not charging the passenger for the service. Revenue from advertisers would cover the cost of installing it, how interesting, since it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars PER PLANE.

    Well, I’m not so convinced that most of these airlines are paying much to have it installed. My guess is that they’re getting some sweetheart deals from the companies that want to get their equipment onboard.

  13. frank says:

    @ CF:

    Here’s what I found online:

    Neither company would release the exact cost of turning airplanes into Wi-Fi hot spots. But Blumenstein said Aircell managed to equip a plane for “substantially” less than $100,000. Row 44, which bills itself as the “industrial-strength solution” to airplane connectivity, costs hundreds of thousands of dollars per plane, Guidon said.

  14. DrKoob says:

    Was on Alaska Air 737 two weeks ago and had WiFi. Outstanding coverage. $3.95 for the flight. Was a survey about WiFi that was pretty thorough that they sent me when I got home. Nice WiFi. I thought that was a great price. One of the options they asked about on the survey was how much would I pay in the future and how the fee structure should be set up. Pay by 24 hour day (great for me that day as I was flying twice), by the flight, by a longer period (great if you are flying a bunch in a given time.)

  15. DrKoob,

    what are your thoughts then on the ideal charge? i believe for first class fliers it should be free. for the rest, it should go by hour because flights vary in length you are allowed to use computers. i do not like the $7.99 / $9.99 boingo type arrangements. in fact airports should reconsider this as well

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