Google Giving Away Free In-flight Wi-Fi

Google has announced that it wil be paying the Wi-Fi costs of all U.S. passengers that fly domestically with AirTran Airways, Delta, and Virgin America.

The free Wi-Fi period will last from the 20th of November to the 2nd of January 2011, not enough to cover the start of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas which starts a few days later.

A whopping 15 million passengers on more than 700 planes are expected to benefit from the Gogo Inflight Internet package.

A round trip Wi-Fi in-flight package can cost up to $22 (ed : that's significantly less than what some hotels charge) and more detail can be found at this dedicated website.

However, the company has confirmed to Techcrunch that it will not offer free Wi-Fi at airports as it did during the last holiday season, possibly because it deprives airports of a small but significant source of revenue.

The search giant said that "This year we decided to focus on the in-flight experience and we are pleased to be working with three of the nation’s leading carriers to bring free in-flight Wi-Fi to holiday travelers."

Google is also pushing Chrome as the sponsor of the scheme in order to raise the awareness of the browser - as a brand - amongst a wider audience.

The announcement came shortly after rumours that Wi-Fi might be prohibited in flights after explosives were found in printer cartridges in cargo airplanes.