Up in the Air With Internet
During my flight, a woman across the aisle leaned over and asked, “You’re online? How much is that?”
“My pass cost me $16,” I said. I had added the Wi-Fi option as a “flight extra” before I checked-in, and the 24-hour pass was ready for me to use when we were up in the air.
The woman opened her laptop and started fiddling around. “Oh, it says it’s $10 for 30 minutes, or $33 for the flight,” she said. She considered her prospects for a minute and then closed her laptop.
Sixteen dollars seems like a reasonable amount of money to access okay internet (you can’t stream anything, or do anything that requires a lot of bandwidth) on a plane during a cross-country flight, but $33? I agreed with the woman’s decision.
CNET explains that Gogo, the largest provider of in-flight Wi-Fi, charges so much on planes because its operating costs are high, and the higher rate is supposed to deter people from using the service. The Wi-Fi service can only support so many users, and if a planeload of people used it all at once, the experience would be terribly slow.
If you do forget to pre-pay for a Wi-Fi pass and realize you need to access the internet on the plane, the CNET article also suggests the following: trick Gogo into thinking your laptop is a mobile phone.
I was using Gogo for work and would be expensing the cost anyway, and if I were on vacation, I would grab at a chance to go offline for a while and dig into a book or watch some terrible movies on the flight and cry.
This story is part of our Travel Month series.