Internet access at 35,000 feet – GoGo is just so so

I’ve been on a flight or maybe two that offered internet access this year but they were short flights – under 3 hours so it did not seem necessary. This past week I flew from the East Coast to the West Coast on Virgin America and although the gogo (www.goginflight.com) service was not offered on the flight west we were offered internet access on the trip from LAX to JFK.

It seemed like a good way for me to keep up with the email onslaught so I slid my credit card in the slot and pretty easily went through the procedure. I was a bit surprised the find out that the cost was $ 12.95 for the entire flight. In checking the prices after the fact it seems they are somewhat inconsistent in that some airlines are as much as $ 15 and others just under $ 10.

In looking around I appeared to be the only one who was availing himself of the service. Once I logged on I found that gogo offers spotty service – sometimes the speed was reminiscent of dial-up modem service. Without a doubt it was never as fast as cable or DSL service but there’s no mention of that on the sign-up page.

Despite the sometimes glacial pace of the service, gogo in flight internet was useful as I was able to get a good amount of work accomplished in what normally would have been time spent reading (I did a lot of that as well given this was a 5 hour flight) or watching in flight television. Given that I spent about 2 hours working $ 6.50/hour seemed more than a little steep to me.

On the gogo site I now come to find out that I could have pre-bought (what is it about airlines with the paying before thing?) the flight for $ 11.00. Of course that was not offered to me during sign-up ON the flight itself. I can also buy a gogo 30 day pass for $ 29.95. I would have been extremely agitated had I chosen that option only to find out that the service is not offered on all Virgin America flights.

I now also know that I can buy a gogo 6 pack for $ 49.95 which is better deal but this is a limited time offer. Why I have no idea. Gogo also offers flights up to 1.5 hours for $ 4.95. Given that it takes about 20 minutes before you can turn your laptop on after takeoff and you have to turn off electronics 10 minutes before the plane lands that leaves about an hour for $ 4.95. A deal for 1.5-3 hours for $ 9.95 is hardly a much better deal.

Anytime a new technology emerges there are bugs that need to be worked out and early adopters often get treated the worst (I can speak from experience with my original Kindle and Blackberry Storm).

I will use the service again on a future flight and hope to find improvements in the gogo service (or whatever service is offered). Having internet access on flights is a great thing overall although I did not try (but thought about it) Skype to see if I could make a call while flying at 35,000 feet.

How about you – would you use in flight internet service? Or is the air your respite from constant communication?

About markkolier

Futurist, entrepreneur, left lane driver
This entry was posted in Customer Experiences, Living in the World Today, Marketing stuff and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Internet access at 35,000 feet – GoGo is just so so

  1. Nader Ashway says:

    Nice post, Mark.
    In-flight Internet access is a revolutionary idea whose time has come. Scratch that, its time came about six years ago, and nobody stepped up to the plate. I give Virgin America credit for being an early adopter and GoGo credit for being an early enabler, but frankly, what’s the point? If you can’t deliver a decent brand experience (any reference to “modem” speeds can’t imply a satisfaction level) at a consistent and fair price, then there’s likely little traction and likely a minor chance of success. It sounds like the only thing GoGo has succeeded at is finding a willing distribution partner for its shoddy service.

    I applaud your optimism and share in the hopes of a future of air travel with fully enabled high-speed Internet access. It’s a scenario that would provide benefits for virtually every party: airlines could attract more business travelers with a “no down time” promise; network providers could drive ancillary revenue from airline/enterprise clientele; and business travelers like us could go from here to there without going dark for too long. Sounds like a win-win-win if I’ve ever heard one.

    Nader Ashway
    Twitter: @nashway

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  2. Ira Platt says:

    I use GoGo frequently as I travel to SLC a lot (second home) and on business. Its available on almost all Delta flights and I have had none of the performance issues you mentioned. I buy monthly passes if I know I (or my wife / kids) are going to have 4 or more legs of travel and they generally cost $29.95 ($7.50 per leg). From my perspective, its a better use of my time than a movie, it entertains my kids (an increasingly difficult challenge at 14/16), it makes me productive and the trip goes faster. As to GoGo’s pricing model, I saw it introduced about 9 months ago on Delta for free (one time, ok, I did it 3x w 3 different email addresses) and the pricing has steadily ramped up over time. If you feel it too costly or too slow don’t use it – but don’t knock it either. Its a nice option on longer flights and if I can be real productive for 4 hrs its worth $10…

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    • markkolier says:

      Thanks for the comment Ira and the way you use GoGo ideal – you know how much you are going to use it and thus the value proposition is that much greater. I completely agree it is a better use of time than a movie and the longer the flight the better the value. It will get better – and hopefully competition will force prices to flatten if not drop a bit. I will use it again and again and hope that my experience with lackluster performance was not indicative of future uses.

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