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.

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