Google offers free in-flight Wi-Fi until January

Google has partnered with AirTran, Delta and Virgin America to offer free in-flight Wi-Fi service on all domestic flights during the upcoming holiday season.

Google did a similar program last year that involved Virgin America only, and Google has also periodically offered free Wi-Fi to travelers in airports.

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This year's program provides free GoGo Inflight Wi-Fi on domestic flights between Nov. 20 and Jan. 2 on the three participating airlines. Typically, GoGo charges between $5 and $13 for Internet access per flight, depending on the flight length, as well as monthly packages ranging from $30 to $40 and a "6 pack" for infrequent travelers that costs $50. There are also less-expensive options for customers using only a mobile device, rather than a laptop.

Although the free in-flight promotion must be costing Google some money, the goodwill earned with customers as well as the extra advertising revenue driven by travelers doing Google searches could make the promotion well worth it for Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

Google's also encouraging users to download Google Chrome, but the free in-flight Wi-Fi would presumably work with any Web browser.

Google has also faced controversy because its Street View program was mistakenly collecting data from open Wi-Fi networks, but the U.S. Federal Trade Commission declined to take action against Google after an investigation.

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