Google promotes Chrome with free in-flight Wi-Fi deal

Promo starts Nov. 20, runs though Jan. 2 on all Delta, Virgin and AirTran domestic flights

Google today said it will sponsor free Wi-Fi on three major U.S. airlines during the last six weeks of the year to promote its Chrome browser.

The move is a twist on a similar promotion Google launched last year, when it offered holiday travelers free wireless access at nearly 50 airports during the holiday season.

This year, the search giant teamed with AirTran, Delta and Virgin America to provide those carriers' passengers free inflight Wi-Fi on every domestic flight. The deal kicks off Nov. 20, the weekend before Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., and runs through Jan. 2, 2011, said Sundar Pichai, Google's vice president of product management, in a Monday statement.

When passengers log onto the GoGo Inflight Internet service, they will see a landing page that notes the Chrome sponsorship. Once online, a second page will appear that includes links to more information about Chrome, as well as a download link and a suggestion to grab a copy of the browser once passengers reach their destination.

The free Wi-Fi will be available to any wireless-enabled device, including smartphones, tablets and laptops.

GoGo's usual prices start at $4.95 for flights of less than one-and-a-half hours, $9.95 for flights up to three hours and $12.95 for flights that last longer than three hours.

The three airlines' domestic fleets -- more than 700 aircraft altogether -- will be equipped with the GoGo service during the promotion, Google said. Delta is easily the biggest of the three, with nearly 550 GoGo-equipped planes worldwide.

Last year Google offered free Wi-Fi at 47 airports during 2009's final two months as part of a general promotion of the company's products and search engine.

Google will not reprise the airport Wi-Fi giveaway this year.

According to the latest data from Web analystics firm Net Applications, Chrome accounted for 8.5% of all browsers used worldwide in October, more than double the 3.6% share Google's browser owned the same month in 2009.

Chrome can be downloaded for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux from Google's site.

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