Free in-flight Gogo for TMobile customers

Getting online with Gogo just got a lot easier for T-Mobile customers. As part of the “Uncarrier” branding T-Mo has added a free hour of online connectivity on Gogo-equipped domestic flights. This is in addition to the free messaging which the pair partnered to offer starting last year. As part of the deal the free messaging plan is also being upgraded to support additional services beyond the original SMS-only offer. The benefit kicks in on 13 June 2016.

The free hour of service is available only on the mobile device which has T-Mobile service on it; this will not allow a phone user to subscribe on their laptop for free. But it is a significant upgrade on the offering and should be a welcome change for T-Mobile users.

We are giving all customers on a T-Mobile branded plan a free hour of Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi on your smartphone. 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.

Also interesting in the announcement is that it includes access to the broader “mobile messaging” plan for the duration of the flight, not just SMS messaging. This is a new plan that Gogo started selling late last year and which allows apps which are typically lower bandwidth and more tolerant of lag/delays through at a lower price point. Gogo sells the mobile plan for under $3 on its flights; it will now be free for T-Mobile users.

This is the latest move by Gogo to shift the cost of its services from the consumer to the airline or other sponsors in some way. Last week the company also announced that Delta passengers would be able to access all of the in-flight entertainment options – many of which are provided by Gogo services – for free. And that’s almost certainly good news for the content and connectivity provider as it moves to increase revenue numbers per aircraft and per passenger on the currently deployed fleet. That’s an important consideration as it has seen its ATG fleet growth slow (not many planes flying over the US/Canada without service committed at this point) and recent additions – mostly Regional Jets flying shorter hops – not pulling in as much revenue per flight/airframe as mainline jets flying longer trips.

Getting passengers to use their devices on shorter flights is good for Gogo. So is the more steady stream of income this sort of partnership creates. And it is good news for T-Mobile customers, too, as they get more value for their monthly fee. And with the majority of the free access remaining on the lighter weight messaging apps the system should be able to handle the incremental demand reasonably well.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. I’ve thought about switching from ATT to TMobile so after this news yesterday I talked to them. One big selling point was the wifi calling, found out that you MUST be on a tmobile phone to do that…my unlocked Moto phone won’t work. Without that I’d sacrifice a lot of coverage by switching so tmobile is still out for me…

    1. I’m not so sure you have to buy the phone from them so much as to be using a compatible phone. I’m almost certain I got my wife’ iPhone at the Apple store and it works fine for wifi calling and everything else on the TMo network.

      1. They have a limited number of phone models compatible with Wi-Fi calling; basically, models that are officially sold by TMo, including iPhones.
        Compatible phones typically can be used regardless of where you bought them, since you can just download T-Mobile’s app and it works.

        T-Mobile customers that use any other unlocked phone could not use Wi-Fi calling and could not use free in-flight texting. Hopefully one hour of Internet access works differently.

        1. The free access hour explicitly states that it is not tied to the wifi calling.

  2. Coverage stinks, calls drop. They have wifi calling for a reason. The extras attract attention. But, like many of us, they need to work on their core.

    1. Coverage varies widely by location. It is relatively poor outside of cities and bad even in some cities. But I’ve very, very rarely been in a position where I had no coverage options when I needed it.

      And I take that as a trade-off for all the other benefits it offers, especially on international usage.

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