Gogo Devalues T-Mobile Free Hour In-Flight WiFi – now only Available on Domestic Flights

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Buenos días everyone. On my last trip to the US, I tried to use the free hour of Gogo in-flight wifi access offered to T-Mobile customers, but couldn’t get the T-Mobile access banner to show up. When I reached out to their chat support team, I was told that the T-Mobile deal is not available on international flights on American Airlines. This was surprising to me, since I’ve taken advantage of it in the past on flights between the US and Mexico City – I thought perhaps this was standard language to keep passengers from expecting to find free wifi on transatlantic and transpacific flights, which mostly use Panasonic Avionics wifi instead of Gogo wifi. However, when I looked at Gogo’s FAQ page, there’s a section that explicitly defines the offer as being available for Gogo-equipped domestic flights:

We are giving all customers on a T-Mobile branded plan a free hour of Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi on your smartphone. This free hour cannot be used with a laptop or tablet. It works on ALL Gogo-equipped domestic flights. That’s on top of the free in-flight texting we introduced last year, which now includes free in-flight messaging with iMessage, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, and Viber—with more on the way.

Although it’s not clear from this answer, it seems like they’ve also disabled the free in-flight messaging on international flights – connecting to the gogoinflight signal with my phone didn’t result in a “T-Mobile Wifi” connection like it normally does. T-Mobile still advertises the promotion on “all Gogo-equipped flights” on its “Why T-Mobile” page.

Free Wi-Fi while you fly: Get one hour of FREE Wi-Fi, plus unlimited in-flight texting on all Gogo®-equipped flights.

I’m not quite sure when this change was made – my last international flight was March 4 and I’m sure I used Gogo on that flight. A Forbes article from March 17 described the offer as applying to both domestic and international flights, so maybe Gogo pulled it after that article was published.

This is a particularly annoying devaluation for me given my travel patterns, but also because Gogo’s network doesn’t extend very far outside the United States – on a flight from Dallas to Mexico City, for example, less than a third of the flight has Gogo coverage, but they are more than happy to charge you $5 for their “partial coverage pass.” What they won’t do is tell you how long you will have partial coverage (so you can decide if the $3 half-hour pass would be a better deal), or show you a flight map so you can get a sense of that on your own. AA has a flight tracker on their website, but you can’t actually see the map since it comes from a third party website that Gogo doesn’t have access to.

A flight tracker page that shows start and end flags but has no map underneath, only a grey box.

This map is not helpful.

I understand why Gogo would want to take this promotion away from customers on international flights where 1 hour of free Wifi would take care of most or all of the time a flight is in Gogo’s coverage area. Less clear to me is why T-Mobile would go along with it, and why Gogo felt it was okay to make this devaluation without telling anyone.

Will not having access to free in-flight wifi on international flights affect you? Do you have any idea when this change happened? Let me know in the comments.

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