Free Wi-Fi for the holidays on Virgin America

Virgin America is partnering with Google to offer all its passengers free Wi-Fi on any of its flights during the holiday season.

Travelers flying on Virgin America over the holidays will get free in-flight Wi-Fi thanks to Google, the companies said Monday.

Google and Virgin America are teaming up to offer free Wi-Fi Internet service for all Virgin America passengers traveling between November 10, 2009, and January 15, 2010.

The Gogo Wi-Fi service, which was rolled out to Virgin America's entire fleet of planes in May, is normally available for $12.95 for flights of over three hours. It's $9.95 for flights between one and a half hours and three hours. Flights of less than an hour and a half are $5.95. There's a special deal for people using smartphones and other Wi-Fi enabled handhelds that costs $7.95 for flights over one and a half hours.

Virgin America estimates that between 12 percent and 15 percent of its customers are using the Gogo Wi-Fi service. On some of its cross-country flights, between 20 percent and 25 percent of its passengers are using the service.

"Since the launch of Wi-Fi on all of our planes, we've seen an overwhelmingly positive response from travelers," Porter Gale, vice president of marketing at Virgin America, said in a statement.

Virgin America hopes that offering the Wi-Fi service will help it win more customers. In a recent survey the airline conducted it found that more than half the respondents said that Wi-Fi would influence their choice of airline. Google and Virgin America are calling the free Wi-Fi promotion a gift to their customers. But for Virgin America it is also a way to give customers a taste of the inflight Wi-Fi service, which will hopefully whet their appetite for Internet service on future Virgin America flights.

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