What You Can Access Online Without Paying for In-Flight Wi-Fi

By Erica Ho

Maybe I’m a sucker because I pay for in-flight Wi-Fi. Turns out there’s a bunch of services on your phone that work without needing to pay up.

[This post was originally published at MapHappy.]

Point Princess has pointed out that there seems to be several services that seem to work without paying as long as you’re connected to the network. She noted that most Google apps seemed to work extremely well on her phone, especially if you happen to be connected to Gogo services. Testing several apps rigorously, she was also able to confirm it on a following Southwest flight a few weeks later.

The apps that work are:

  • Gmail
  • Google Voice
  • Google Drive
  • Google Maps
  • Google Hangouts
  • Google Image Search
  • Google Search from phone search bar
  • Amazon music (only music in playlist will stream)
  • Airline app

Perhaps it’s time to start being tech-forward if you’re not using Google already? There’s no rhyme or reason behind this, though I suspect it could be due to something the internet port each app connects to. Point Princess has her own theory:

The Flying Consultant and I hypothesize that these in-flight Wi-Fi services use Google Analytics to monitor traffic in some way. Since they must allow access to Google servers, Google applications also work. I wish I had known this last year when my flight was diverted and I paid for in-flight Wi-Fi so I could text my friend to pick me up.

There’s been no verified reports about whether this trick works on laptops but I’m definitely going to have to give it a go the next time I’m up in the air. And I thought I was savvy.

[Point Princess]

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