This year’s Labor Day Weekend holiday period is expected to break records for the number of people traveling across the USA by air. And a whole bunch of them will get free inflight wifi thanks to Gogo and T-Mobile. Every traveler on a domestic US flight equipped with the Gogo service will receive a free 30-minute smartphone session on Monday as part of the deal.
The partnership between T-Mobile and Gogo dates back to 2014 and has grown over the years. The company’s customers generally receive a free hour (or full flight for OnePlus subscribers) on board. For this promotion everyone on board gets a taste of the fun.
In addition to passengers benefitting the deal is a nice win for Gogo as it means more travelers using the system and the company getting paid for that consumption, without the traveler dipping into their wallets. Gogo’s efforts to diversify into third-party paid offerings continue, though it is a tough battle to fight. That said, the push is not new, not by any means. Nine years ago Virgin America and Gogo celebrated the fitting of that airline’s full A320 fleet with the ATG connectivity gear by offering free wifi around the Thanksgiving holiday; the effort was funded by Google. They even had promo t-shirts for that event that they gave away at the gate. I still have the two I snagged before my flight.
Of course, increasing the system utilization is a double-edged sword. Limiting it to only smartphones will help reduce data consumption versus laptops or tablets. Plus, recent transitions to remove many ATG planes from the network in favor of satellite-based kit with much greater capacity will further improve the quality of service delivered. Here’s hoping the network can handle the increased demand from travelers on Monday.
And, of course, JetBlue travelers will continue to have free FlyFi wifi service on board (also a third-party paid offering). On the outside looking in will be United Airlines customers and some American Airlines travelers flying on aircraft running wifi from other vendors.
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