Gogo Inflight Problem

The other day, I was on an Alaska Airlines flight to Dallas, TX (on my way to speak at OpenCamp). My dendrites were quite thrilled to discover that the plane was WiFi-enabled. Yay! I realize that some people refuse to pay for in-flight Internet, but… the alternative is to “bored” the plane. Get it?! Anyway…

I fired open my Web browser on the iPhone and was greeted with a simple fee structure for the day:

Okay, $7.95 sounds quite doable. I was expecting it to be a bit more, to tell you the truth. Then, I wondered if I should just sign up on my iPad (since I’d be able to browse the Web easier with a substantially larger screen). That’s when I was smacked with this:

Wait a second. It’s the same Internet, it’s the same access point, it’s the same time of day, it’s the same flight – and somehow, Gogo Inflight wants to charge me $3 less on the iPad versus the iPhone? Something smells fishy – and it’s not the fish from First Class.

Yes, this “pointless” price discrepancy really pissed me off. Most people would use one device over another, never thinking of using both – and, certainly, they’d expect to see a quick explanation of the limitations of either usage model. I wondered, then, if Gogo Inflight was profiling (!) me – thinking that since I was an iPhone owner, I could afford to pay more – versus the iPad, which was seemingly being detected as a laptop?

Then again, can’t a laptop “do more” than an iPhone? Why charge more for one over the other? It made absolutely no sense to me – but before sharing my extreme disappointment with the world (via this blog, since I initially tweeted my concerns), I waited to hear from one of their representatives, who kindly explained:

I’m Caitlin, I work on Gogo Inflight Internet and I saw your tweets about the issue that you had with pricing yesterday. I’ve copied Mike on this email, who works directly with our customer care team. We’re both genuinely sorry that you had a frustrating experience, and wanted to take the time to try to explain what happened.

Our prices are based on both device type and flight time, as our team communicated on Twitter. You can see the basic pricing structure here. However, if flight data is not available, as sometimes happens on our equipment, we automatically default to the lowest price available for that device. It sounds like what happened with you yesterday was that the mobile site (which your iPhone would see) was able to give you the correct price based on flight time. However, your iPad, which runs on our laptop site, didn’t get that data and automatically gave you the lowest possible price. We try to always err on the side that benefits the customer, so you got a lower price since we couldn’t find the specific flight data.

Additionally, purchasing on a laptop, netbook, or iPad actually allows you to switch back and forth between that device and any mobile device, although you can’t use both devices at once.

Sorry, guys – but I don’t buy it. In fact, I’m even more confused now.

Why is Gogo Inflight charging less to allow the user to do more?! That’s Caitlin’s assertion: if you buy access from the iPad (“laptop”) for $4.95, you can switch between devices in-flight, but if you buy access on your iPhone for $7.95, you’re stuck with one device?

Dude. Seriously. Gogo Inflight needs a serious altitude adjustment.

Every person should pay the same amount for a flight, regardless of device. Once access has been paid for (once), let the user flip between devices so long as only one of them is on the network at any given time – lest they pay extra for a second device.

Anything less than that is just… devicist.