Update your Facebook status free in-flight
February promotion gives travelers a taste of airborne Wi-Fi in hopes they'll pay for additional service on future flights.
If you're flying in February on one of seven U.S. airlines with wireless in-flight access, you can update your Facebook status in the air for free.
But if you want to post updates on Twitter, read Smart Spending or go anywhere else on the Internet, you'll have to pay $4.95 to $12.95 per flight. The service also has monthly plans, and you can sometimes find promo codes online.
The free Facebook promotion is courtesy of Gogo Inflight Internet, which offered free in-flight wireless over the holidays on three airlines to promote its service, and Ford Motor Co. Fliers can take advantage of the promotion with any Wi-Fi-enabled device.
Gogo provides wireless in-flight Internet on more than 1,000 planes operated by nine airlines. The airlines participating in the Facebook promotion are AirTran, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America.
Wireless in-flight service has been available for several years, but only 7% to 10% of fliers use it, a marketing analyst told USA Today.
"There is a lack of familiarity because of little marketing and concern among consumers that the quality does not measure up to the cost," Amy Cravens of In-Stat told the newspaper.
Jared Newman of PCWorld isn't sure the free holiday Wi-Fi access Gogo offered with Google was an effective promotion because the added demand slowed the service. That could explain why the current promotion is limited to Facebook. He wrote:
By limiting freeloaders to Facebook, Gogo can keep a lid on bandwidth while showing off its service. And once people have their laptops up and online, convincing them to pay for full Internet access might be easier.
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