Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Flying the Digitally Friendly Skies: Gogo, Google and the Facebook PR Guy in 17D


So, BoomTown–who cannot be unplugged from the matrix for very long without breaking into a cold sweat–was pretty excited to have free Wi-Fi on my Virgin America flight to Washington, D.C., early this morning.

The service from Gogo Inflight Internet is free since earlier this week until Jan. 15, courtesy of Google (GOOG), on Virgin, as well as at 47 airports. It usually costs anywhere from $6 to $13.

Like the search giant, other Web companies–presumably wanting to goose usage and, more to the point, their brands–have also leaped in.

Delta has a promotion with eBay (EBAY) on several hundred planes for a week around Thanksgiving, and Yahoo (YHOO) is footing the bill for anyone using computers or smartphones in Times Square in New York for one year.

Pretty much what the government and big cable and wireless companies should be doing, but let’s not look a digital gift horse in the mouth.

So far on the flight, the Internet has been pretty solid, although video plays even slower than my Comcast (CMCSA) connection at home.

Also, electricity on the flight has been in and out; when it doesn’t work, it pretty much negates Internet use on a long flight.

But more interesting, as most who use the Web in the air seem to feel, is the ability to make a lot of online connections, including with people on the same plane.

While I was no fan of the goofy seat-to-seat connections offered on some airlines, I did get an email from a Facebook public relations guy sitting in the row behind me on the same flight asking if I wanted to meet the social networking site’s DC staff.

Without ever seeing him I now have a meeting on Monday with them, so–apparently–mission accomplished!

Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.