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In-Flight WiFi on the House Courtesy of Google

Google’s hooking up with Gogo, an in-flight ISP, to dish out free wifi on domestic flights for AirTran, Delta and Virgin from November 20th through January 2nd (PR). All three airlines are suiting up all of their planes for the task, more than seven hundred total expected to shuttle fifteen million passengers over the holiday season. They did this last year but on a small scale, only Virgin.

The catch? When you get home, the next time you Google something Google might say something along the lines of this: “Hey, remember that flight which felt a lot shorter because you had free wifi? Yeah no sweat .. but now that you’re home and have had some time to think about us, maybe you should try Google Chrome if you’ve got a minute, if only as a gesture.”

As a result many people will have a slightly less unpleasant flight without having to pay for it (or hope their plane will even be equipped), the airlines and Gogo get to give everyone a taste of their juice perhaps with Google paying for most of this and maybe more ticket sales, some of those people get to experience the joys of Chrome and Google gets more browser share, which they’ve been exhibiting competence in doing.

Kind of an expensive way to advertise a web browser you might think but something tells me when it comes to advertising Google knows what they’re doing. Or maybe they don’t but are in a what-the-hell mood. Fire up Google Earth, get on the wifi, hopefully you’ve got a window seat, sort of smush your phone up against the window to get a GPS fix and stare at Google Earth, read on Wikipedia how stewardesses used to be nurses or maybe Google something – or Bing something if you want to be subversive. Whatever, free wifi.

Doug Simmons