Google Inc. 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 as a holiday gift now through 15th January 2010.
The gift currently includes 47 airports, including Las Vegas, San Jose, Boston, Baltimore, Burbank, Houston, Indianapolis, Seattle, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, St. Louis and Charlotte. In these 47 airports together handle over 500 million passengers each year, or about 35% of the total number of annual passengers in the U.S.
Additionally, as a result of this project, Burbank and Seattle airports will begin offering airport-wide free Wi-Fi indefinitely.
"We're very happy to extend our Holiday Wi-Fi gift to the millions of people who will spend time in airports over the next few months," said Marissa Mayer, Vice President of Search Products and User Experience at Google. "We know that this is a very hectic travel season for people, and we hope that free Wi-Fi will make both traveling and connecting with friends and family a little bit easier."
"As a pioneer in providing complimentary Wi-Fi to airport customers, we are very excited about Google partnering with McCarran International along with other airports across the country to bring holiday cheer to so many travelers," said Rosemary A. Vassiliadis, Deputy Director, Clark County Department of Aviation
“Indianapolis International Airport is thrilled to be a part of the Google Holiday Wi-Fi campaign," said Jeremiah Wise, Treasurer, Indianapolis Airport Authority. "Free and open access to the Internet has been a key passenger service initiative since the opening of our new airport. The involvement of sponsors such as Google helps to ensure we can continue to keep Wi-Fi free.”
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 15th January 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.
The company says a recent study conducted by the Wi-Fi Alliance reported that 50% of business travelers take red-eye flights in order to be "reachable" during business hours, and an overwhelming 82% 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 US$250,000, and the airport network that generates the highest amount per passenger by 1st January 2010 will receive US$15,000 to donate to the local nonprofit of their choice.
In October, Google and Virgin America announced that, during this same period, all passengers on Virgin America will have free in-flight Wi-Fi.