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How To Get Free Gogo Wifi During Flight



Screenshot: David Murphy
Mile High Week Flying the "friendly skies" is often hell, but it doesn't have to be . It's Mile High Week, and we're investigating everything flight-related, from how to score, to how to fall asleep on a long haul flight to how to win the perennial war over arm rests. Wheels up.

Paying for wifi on an airplane? You must be made of gold, because there's no way ever going to $ 10 or more — for more than 30 minutes of internet time. At least, that's what Gogo was charging on my recent Alaska Airlines trip. But thanks to a few clever workarounds (if I say so myself), I was able to get more free time than I deserved.

Thanks, T-Mobile

Though Gogo inflight internet is outrageously expensive, T-Mobile has partnered up with Gogo to give all of its cellular subscribers a free hour of internet. That's not a lot, I know, but we're addressing that part in a bit. (If your flight is only two hours long, this is just enough time to mess around on your favorite website while you're hovering above 10,000 feet.)

Depending on your luck, you know someone who uses "The Uncarrier." Before testing this with Beth, I typed in random numbers and achieved success within five tries-not bad.

What happens when your hour runs out

Your internet goes away. However, you can still use some messaging apps and send texts, so you won't be cut off from the world forever during your flight — at least, that was the setup on my recent Alaska Airlines trip. 19659018] Illustration for article titled How to Get Free Gogo Wifi During a Flight “/>

Screenshot: David Murphy

You're probably pondering the obvious question: Why not log off the wifi, log back on, and use a different phone number to get an extra hour? At least, that's the first thing I thought about, but Gogo's setup is smart. You can clear your browser's cache and cookies, for example, and you will be able to do it as the "enter a number" page. “/>

Nice try. [Try]
Nice try. “/>
Nice try. : David Murphy

What I was able to figure out during my flight was that this "did you use it already" tool tracks your device by MAC address. That doesn't really help you if you're on an iPhone, since you have no way to change it. However, if you are running Android Q, you should be able to use the Terminal Emulator app to change your Android device's MAC address to anything you want — getting another hour for free.

I'm on the Android Q beta, and Terminal Emulator were unable to change my MAC address when I tried it out. I still had one other trick up my sleeve, though —and, no, I was about to root my phone just to get free airplane wifi. Instead, it took advantage of a new Android Q feature, where the OS automatically randomizes your MAC address when you connect to new wifi networks.

This implementation is not perfect, as Android Q picks one random MAC address to use for that network, rather than changing it up each time you connect. In my case, I used my free hour of wifi on this dummy MAC address, and then I switched back to my device's real MAC address by tapping the gear icon next to the wifi network's name and finding the "Privacy" option in Network Details:

Screenshot: David Murphy

I finished up by logging off the Gogo wifi network, logging back on, and using a different T-Mobile number to get another free hour on my "new" Android phone.

What about your computer?

If you try to pull up Gogo's wifi access page from your laptop during a flight, you will not have an option to get a free T-Mobile hour. Your laptop is not a mobile device, but we can fix it.

for example. I was almost successful, too, but Gogo's crafty checks deduced that I was still using a laptop:

So close …
Screenshot: David Murphy
… and yet so far
Screenshot: David Murphy

With plenty more time to kill my long flight, I tried a different method. I switched over to Firefox and inserted a new string in its about: config page that overwhelmed my user agent browser-wide. In other words:

  • I typed about: configure my address bar
  • I searched for "useragent"
  • I right-clicked and added a new string, calling it general.useragent.override
  • For the string value, I borrowed one from this site. I copy and paste this entire chunk of text: Mozilla / 5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 6_0 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit / 536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Free Gogo Wifi During a Flight "/>
Screenshot: David Murphy
  • When I was done — to be safe — I loaded up Terminal on my MacBook and changed my device's MAC address to one that only differed from my iPhone's MAC address at a single digit (the final one). Though I doubt Gogo wifi deduces what a device is at anything found in its MAC address, this does not work, and it was good practice for the spoofing It was later to get extra hours on my MacBook
  • I then refreshed the gogo wifi page in firefox and was able to activate my free hour if i was using a mobile device, which i was most certainly not
  • Finally, i deleted the user agent override so it wouldn't mess up my other Firefox browsing.

Illustration for article titled How to Get Free Gogo Wifi During a Flight "/>

Screenshot: David Murphy

Meh. Still, free wifi is free wifi — thanks again, T-Mobile!


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