I don't know about you, but in-flight WiFi is one of my favorite modern travel conveniences. I can catch up on work, clear out my inbox, and finally see the latest episodes of my favorite shows. I can even double check that my office is secure. However, with additional fees for baggage, food, and seat choices, using WiFi should feel like an accessible treat rather than yet another expense. Here are a few ways you can score it for free or nearly free.
Be a cardholder
Gogo is a service that offers passengers access to the web, available where network coverage exists. You can purchase one hour access, one day access, or even one month of access. Airlines serviced by Gogo include Virgin America, United, American, Alaska Airlines, Air Canada, and Delta.
I was pleasantly surprised recently to learn that my Business Platinum Card from American Express gives me free access to Gogo's in-flight WiFi. Although it can be a hard card to be approved for, you may be surprised that you do qualify for it or already have a card that comes with additional travel perks.
Check with your cell phone provider
If you have an account with T-Mobile, you're in luck. In addition to lowering their fees for cell phone service, they also offer free unlimited texting on flights PLUS a free hour of Gogo in-flight WiFi for each flight you take -- and there aren't any limits on the number of times you can take advantage of this offer.
Not a T-Mobile subscriber? Check with your carrier for further information about what they can provide for you. Many carriers have promotions for their business oriented consumers that you may not be aware of.
If you've been considering a flight with JetBlue, you now have one very good reason to book the seat. JetBlue is the only airline that not only offers WiFi at each and every seat, but they offer it for free. The service, called Fly-Fi, is provided by Amazon and available on all domestic flights, free of charge to all passengers. There are also a number of JetBlue terminals that provide free WiFi.
If JetBlue isn't an option in your area, check other airlines for their promotions. Some airlines have promotions for specific destinations and routes.
Keep an eye out for offers and promotions
Every once in awhile, companies will offer free Gogo access to customers as an added perk. Keep an eye out for these deals and take advantage of them while you can (hint: social media and travel sites are good places to check). You don't always have to buy anything either. For instance, T-Mobile has been known to offer a free hour of Gogo access to everyone flying on certain holiday weekends (even if you weren't a customer).
Buy in advance
If you aren't able to find free Gogo access for your next flight, you can at least get it at a discounted rate by buying early. By logging in at Gogo.com, you'll have access to Wifi rates that are cheaper than you'll find in the air. For instance, a one-hour pass is $7 online by buying early. If you are a frequent traveler, you may want to take advantage of their monthly or yearly passes.
As the saying goes, time is money. Taking advantage of the distraction-free time spent up in the air is often a good way to stay ahead (although I totally understand needing to go off the grid every once in a while). If you know in advance that you'll want to use the internet in-flight -- and can't snag access for free -- it's worth it to at least save a little money by buying ahead.