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The Future of In-Flight Communication (Hint: It’s Already Here)

Written by Mandy Voisin

In November 2008, a little company known at the time as Aircell (now recognized as Gogo), threw a launch party, bringing in reporters, social media celebrities, and analysts to fly a small circuit on a Virgin America plane. While circling San Francisco, the guests were treated to internet – the very first time an internet service was offered on a commercial aircraft. Within months, dozens of planes were wired for Wi-Fi, and in just a couple of years, thousands had internet connectivity.

While most internet packages have to be purchased in-flight (even for business and first class passengers, but we won’t get into that here), T-Mobile is getting on board the traveler market by offering a FREE hour of Gogo Internet for all customers on all flights. Oh yeah – and they’re throwing in unlimited in-flight text messaging. If you don’t have Wi-Fi on your phone, you can also use data iMessage, WhatsApp, and Viber to communicate with your friends on or off the ground


What This Means for Travelers Everywhere

So maybe you don’t have T-Mobile, and maybe the promise of unlimited text messaging in-flight and an hour of internet isn’t enough to entice you to make the jump. But, if you like to travel, and you travel pretty frequently, T-Mobile’s announcement is fantastic news for you – regardless of who’s your mobile carrier. The fact that major companies are beginning to realize that people want to stay connected wherever they are, and are not only making that possible (like Gogo did in 2008) but also offering connectivity for free, means that competitors will likely begin throwing their hats in the ring pretty soon.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight knowing that in the (near) future, you will most likely enjoy free, high-speed Wi-Fi from takeoff to landing. And if you’re a T-Mobile customer already, you can give your friends a celebratory high-five … and enjoy your free hour of surfing. 

About the author

Mandy Voisin

Hey I'm Mandy. Writer, traveler, wife, mother, author, woman, over-sharer. I like to talk about the grit of travel, the beautiful, and the people that I meet.

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1 Comment

  • Unfortunately, Aircell/Gogo service is just horrible and literally unusable on most flights. I was hoping you were telling us that T-Mobile was replacing the current junk in-flight Internet with something halfway decent. Guess I’ll keep wishing. Thanks for the info, though. I do appreciate your efforts.