Google Inc. announced today that it is working with airports across the country as well as Boingo Wireless, Advanced Wireless Group, Airport Marketing Income and others to provide free Wi-Fi now through January 15, 2010.
The offer currently applies to airports in 47 cities, including Las Vegas, San Jose, Boston, Baltimore, Burbank, Houston, Indianapolis, Seattle, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, St. Louis and Charlotte. Additionally, as a result of this project, Burbank and Seattle airports will begin offering airport-wide free Wi-Fi indefinitely.
The upcoming Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holiday is one of the heaviest travel seasons of the year and, according to FAA estimates, over 100 million people will pass through the participating airports between now and January 15, 2010. Due to bad weather and other extenuating circumstances, travelers often have extra time on their hands in the airport after they pass through security - 70 minutes, on average. Not surprisingly, having an Internet connection during this time can make a difference. A recent study conducted by the Wi-Fi Alliance reported that 50 percent of business travelers take red-eye flights in order to be "reachable" during business hours, and an overwhelming 82 percent said that being connected through Wi-Fi would help solve that problem.
As another way to pass on the spirit of the season, once they log on to networks in any of the participating airports, travelers will have the option make a donation to Engineers Without Borders, the One Economy Corporation or the Climate Savers Computing Initiative. Google will match the donations made across all the networks up to $250,000, and the airport network that generates the highest amount per passenger by January 1, 2010 will receive $15,000 to donate to the local nonprofit of their choice.
In total, 47 airports that together handle over 500 million passengers each year—or about 35 percent of the total number of annual passengers in the U.S.—will get the free Wi-Fi. In October, Google and Virgin America announced that, during this same period, all passengers on Virgin America will have free in-flight Wi-Fi. Five of the airports participating in the program are also Virgin America destinations: Boston, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego and Virgin America's newest destination launching November 18, Fort Lauderdale.
More information about the networks, including a full list of participating airports, is available at www.freeholidaywifi.com.