After giving away free in-flight Wi-Fi during the holidays, airlines are trying a different promotional strategy with free Facebook access.
American Airlines, AirTran, Alaska Airlines, Delta, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America are all taking part in the Facebook promo, which will be offered throughout February on U.S. flights in partnership with Gogo Inflight Internet, USA Today reports. It's not clear whether Facebook is directly involved in the deal, but it is the most-visited site via Gogo.
In-flight Wi-Fi, which ranges from $5 for short flights to $13 for long ones, hasn't taken off in a big way. In-stat analyst Amy Cravens estimates that 7 percent to 10 percent of passengers on any given Wi-Fi flight will pay for the service.
To boost interest, Gogo and several airlines partnered with Google for free Wi-Fi last holiday season, allowing access to the entire Internet. But I'm not sure how effective that promotion was; getting a constant connection during my holiday flights was tougher than usual because of high demand, and I wasn't the only one who noticed.
By limiting freeloaders to Facebook, Gogo can keep a lid on bandwidth while showing off its service. And once people have their laptops up and online, convincing them to pay for full Internet access might be easier.
Just one problem: If you were already worried about Facebook giving away your personal information, now you've got to deal with the guy in the seat next to you peeking over your shoulder as well.