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Google punts free in-flight Wi-Fi for holiday travelers

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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. All three airlines have already equipped their entire domestic fleets with GoGo Wi-Fi, spanning more than 700 planes. Typically, GoGo service is priced at $13 per flight, though bulk purchase are available.

“We are constantly working to help provide a better web experience to users around the world,” Google vice president of product management Sundar Pichai said in a canned statement. “Whether it be building a better browser with Chrome or bringing free Wi-Fi to air travelers this holiday season, we are constantly innovating to ensure users’ access to the web is fast, simple and seamless.”

In a rare press release, Google says that between November 20 and January 2, 15 millon passengers are expected to fly on those 700 planes. The company is waving free Wi-Fi at those 15 million souls to promote its browser, but it should go without saying that Google will also benefit from the added net use. More Wi-Fi means more Googling. Last year, Google sponsored free holiday Wi-Fi on Virgin America and in more than 50 airports across the country.

The Register has used GoGo extensively on domestic Delta, and we can confirm that connection speeds are quite good. For travelers, it's a godsend. And a curse. ®

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