Skift Take

When the day comes that air travelers don't have to pay $37 for Wi-Fi on a long-haul flight, then that will be a good thing for both airlines and passengers.

Michael Small, CEO of Gogo, the in-flight Wi-Fi provider, spoke October 15 at the Skift Global Forum.

Small, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the communications industry and is transitioning Gogo from merely an air-to ground systems provider into sattelite-based Wi-Fi, discussed the topic, “The Digital Habits of Air Travelers and What Brands Can Learn From Them.”


Here are seven things we learned from Small’s discussion with Atmosphere Research Group’s Henry Harteveldt:

  • Small believes that the company’s new and proprietary 2KU satellite tech would deliver Wi-Fi at twice the speed of its air-to ground system and at a lower cost.
  • The new tech would better-connect passenger and crew on the plane and enable an airline to monitor flight performance and other operations from the ground.
  • The new tech would enable a bevy of new apps, although Gogo has no intention of getting into the apps-creation business. It will leave that to the experts in each field but will help enable them to build efficient apps on Gogo’s platform.
  • What’s ahead for travelers with satellite-based Wi-Fi, which works over land and sea? Small points to the ability to rebook upcoming flights while airborne as well as making restaurant reservations during flights; other developments include more efficient browsing and video streaming.
  • Smartphone use on planes is growing much faster than laptop and tablet use perhaps because of airlines sticking more seats in planes, Small says.
  • What is not coming with advances in satellite-based Wi-Fi in the U.S? Phone calls, says Small, who notes that voice calls become less important as travelers communicate more frequently by email and text.
  • Gogo supports multiple business models for airline Wi-Fi including fee-based and free/sponsored models, says Small. “Bags fly free or they don’t,” Small says. “Most airlines like getting a check more than writing a check.”

Keep track of all the activity at this year’s Global Forum by bookmarking our #skiftforum tag.


And thanks to all the sponsors that made Skift Global Forum 2015 possible: Adobe, Amadeus, American Express, Boxever, Big Bus Tours, CendyneOne, Cheapoair, Criteo, Gogo, HelloGbye, Hornblower Cruises, MasterCard, Mindtree, National Geographic, NewsCred, Sabre, SiteMinder, Travel Channel, TurkeyHome, Uber, Underline, Virtuoso, and Yahoo.


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Tags: gogo, inflight Wi-Fi, sgf2015, skift global forum

Photo credit: Gogo CEO Michael Small (right) discusses the changing digital habits of air travelers with Atmosphere Research Group's Henry Harteveldt at the Skift Global Forum in Brooklyn on October 15, 2015. Skift

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