back to article Google punts free in-flight Wi-Fi for holiday travelers

Google's Chrome browser team is offering free in-flight Wi-Fi to holiday travelers flying on a trio of US airlines. Thanks to some sponsorship dollars from Mountain View, from November 20 to January 2, Delta, Virgin America, and AirTran will provide free Wi-Fi on all domestic flights via the existing GoGo in-flight service. …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Very Brave

    Given the latest 'scare' is setting off things-that-go-bang on planes using phones/wifi it would be ironic if Google's Do No Evil was tainted by providing the detonation service for free....

    Grenade for obvious reasons....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Pray* tell

      How is a terrorist going to set up their inkjet cartridge to sign up to gogo, go through the captcha and click on "accept terms & conditions"?

      * Praying to Allah also accepted

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pray* tell

        The terrorists don't need to go through the captcha, all they need to do is to have infected a machine belonging to someone who then uses the service, and then use that machine to run as a WiFi hotspot to relay to the device in the hold.

        But we're safe because they'd first need to infect lots of laptops. Oh wait...

      2. Danny 14


        perhaps they can google the anarchists cookbook.

    2. Tempest

      Not so brave

      To trigger an explosion you would need a device the ability to send a message and have it received.

      Blocking any incoming not originated by on-board devices would eliminate the problem.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Good reason for a captcha screen

    Perhaps all such airborne Wi-Fi Interweb systems should include, if they don't already, a captcha login screen to ensure that any nasty devices have a human in the loop. This would keep the suitcases and air freight from logging into the Interweb by themselves for instructions.

    But please make sure it works with Wi-Fi smartphones. [e.g. Don't depend on Flash... ;-) ]

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good reason for a captcha screen

      > But please make sure it works with Wi-Fi smartphones. [e.g. Don't depend on Flash... ;-)

      Well some smartphones can run Flash, just not the ones from the fruit farm.

      So Flash is an excellent idea here. Make it depend on Flash, and then all the smug iPhone people can start asking Jobsie why he won't let them run Flash, like those annoying Android geeks can.

      1. Volker Hett

        hm ...

        On the other hand, if <insert flash using company here> don't want my business, I'll be looking elsewhere. Even without an iPhone I don't have flash on most of my devices, either because it isn't available (Palm Pre) or too much work (32bit flash player on a 64bit Linux and Windows 7) or because I just don't like flash anyways and block flash where I happen to have a flash player installed.

  3. MacRat

    No Real Airlines?

    Bragging rights for the more obscure airlines.

    1. Alastair 7

      Presumably you are not in the US

      Delta an obscure airline? Please.

  4. Mercifull

    @AC Flash might actually be a good idea here

    If a flash based captcha is required for in-flight wifi then doesnt that pretty much guarantee that a toner cartridge couldnt ever connect to it for a signal? As far as i'm aware noone is making a flash plugin for ink cartridges. For iDevices that can't get flash perhaps they could make an app for that?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Seriously - Captcha???

    I'd imagine this service would be turned on when the plane is sat on the ground? If so, then an alternative connection via GPRS / 3G to send the captcha to you, with you providing the answer via GPRS which will then connect via the Google service and stay connected in flight.

    However, if these guys really are suicide bombers then they're likely to just sit on the plane with a laptop and a P2P wi-fi link or a bluetooth link to any explosive material - why bother wasting time with the public internet when you can sit someone on a plane and tell them to push a button at a certain time!

    AC as even talking about this stuff could probably end me up in a jail somewhere with the messed up state this country is now in! If I can think of in a minute then the guys who do this are a million steps ahead of me and god knows what the next thing will be - I won't lose any sleep over it as more people die crossing the road each day and I did that on the way to work this morning!

  6. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    Chess moves

    (1) Give free in-flight Wi-Fi to captive travellers flying on airlines.

    (2) Add Deep Packet Inspection technology to spy on everything captive travellers do online.

    (3) Yet more profit, for Google from exploiting people's privacy for their profit.

    For Google its like having a plane full of captive money making battery hens.

    Until Deep Packet Inspection is make totally illegal worldwide, companies will continue to find ever more ways to exploit it. So it will happen.

    So its only a matter of time before they use Deep Packet Inspection on Wi-Fi connections like this as an additional profit making scheme (and most non-technical people will as usual remain ignorant of how they are being increasingly used, spied on and exploited).

    So wifi will go from being a free loss leader marketing style customer lure to get customers to go to them, into becoming yet another way to exploit people without them realising the full implications and extent of how they and their personal details are increasingly being used, spied on and exploited.

    So this news is really yet another sign of yet another day and another step towards being spied on ever more as the corporations (and governments) continue to re-educate us all into being more compliant money making battery hens, where our privacy becomes profit for the rich and powerful in society.

    1. Volker Hett

      Use a VPN

      good advice on any network which is not yours in any case.

      Or read a book, we survived a couple of millennia offline, must be possible now, too.

      1. MinionZero
        Big Brother

        @Volker Hett, VPN etc..

        @Volker Hett, you've (intentionally) missed the fact I was referring to "most non-technical people". Most people don't know what the hell VPN is let alone how to set it up and use it.

        Plus before you bother saying it, the usual common attack against what I just said its to use a condescending Straw Man argument to assume either they use VPN or to hell with them for being unable to learn to use VPN. I very much suspect the real reason this condescending argument is used is because some technically minded people enjoy being condescending over non-technical people who don't understand what they understand about technology. :(

        Ok once more:

        (1) The companies will do everything they can to block and undermine anyone using VPN.

        (2) Encryption while better than not encrypted isn't going to stop all spying. (For example, a lot of Signals Intelligence spying work over the decades has been based on who you contact and when, not just what you say). Anyway the only 100% guaranteed way to stop Deep Packet Inspection spying is to legally stop Deep Packet Inspection!

        (3) No way in hell will everyone ever be able to become technically minded enough to set-up and use VPN.

        Plus the next common condescending (this time ignorant) argument is to not care about the people who are spied on, yet they are the majority of the population. Spying on the majority of a population is all that is needed to create a Police State. Political power is about herding the majority of people to do what the people in power want. Such as to get them to look the other way when the political people want them to look the other way, so they don't see anything to get angry about. (Which is part of the work of political spin doctors to seek ways to distract people when releasing bad news).

        This in turn lets the political people get away with what they are doing unchallenged, so they get away with ever more as the majority of population gets ever more distracted away from seeing the full depth of corruption in what the people in power are really doing against them. Which is exactly what is happening around us. Which is also why we are increasingly sliding into this Police State as the majority don't fully understand what is happening around them. Plus even if they did hear it the vast majority of the population doesn't have the technical knowledge to understand the full implications.

        Therefore its going to take either legal action against these spying corporations (which is very unlikely as the corporations and governments both want to spy) or its going to take technically minded people to come up with much better and widely used new solutions to circumvent and stop the bastards in power turning our world into their Police State.

  7. Bilgepipe
    Gates Horns


    “We are constantly working to help provide a better web experience to users around the world,”

    Oops, slip of the tongue. He means "ads," not "web experience."

  8. Anonymous Coward


    How all of those Al Queda holiday packages can use iPods.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    Blocking any incoming not originated by on-board devices would NOT eliminate the problem. Ever here of polling? That's how a lot of mobile device services work.

  10. bexley

    re: use a vpn

    They will almost certainly block vpn's on this, it will be the most locked down 'free' wifi ever created for many reason.

    I would expect it to be quite useless for anything other than normal web surfing.

  11. Timo

    great sampling opportunity

    So Google will stump for WiFi, and they'll get to sample what people do if they have free WiFi on a plane.

    I imagine if Google figures out that there is something there that they can make margin on (ie they'll make more money on ads than it costs to provide the service), then we may see a lot more inflight shoulder surfing courtesy of Google.

  12. John A Blackley

    mouths of gift horses

    If ever I'm moved to philanthropy (unlikely), my money will be quite safe from the commenters here. If I offered them a twenty pound note for nothing, they'd look at it, sniff and refuse on the grounds that it's "all wrinkled and dirty-looking".

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