Aircell on usage, discounts and porn hoopla

We’re dying to know the usage stats on Gogo but Aircell isn’t telling…yet. American Airlines this summer began offering the in-flight broadband service on its transcon fleet of Boeing 767s.

“Unfortunately, I can’t release our usage stats yet. I can say that we have exceeded our usage goals to date and are happy with how usage is trending,” says an Aircell spokesman. 

AirCell terrestrial map.JPGOkay, but if that’s the case, then why is Aircell handing out coupons to American customers for 25% off the usual price of $12.95 for over three hours?

“In terms of the discounts, they aren’t new. We have been experimenting since day 1 with discounts on various flights and routes at various times to see how they impact adoption and usage,” says the spokesman. “We’ve been very happy with the usage so far, but more usage is always better, right?”

Perhaps I’m just being a bit cynical here. And so I asked a telecommunications expert what he thinks. “I suspect that they WANT to be at $9.95 – so their marketing folks figured they’d list price at $12.95 and then pass out the coupons….works fine…also, nothing wrong with introductory discounts. It’s still cheaper than a Hilton, Sheraton or Best Western.”

Okay, grand. We’ll accept that…for now. Virgin America is set to go live with the service on 22 November. The carrier as well as another Aircell customer, Air Canada, appear to be breaking from the pack with respect to content filtration.

While American and Delta will filter objectionable material such as pornography (as discussed at length here and also here), Virgin America and Air Canada “have not indicated a desire to filter content on Gogo”, says the Aircell spokesman.

He says the Colorado-based company isn’t surprised by all the hoopla surrounding the in-flight porn issue. “In terms of our reaction to the ‘hoopla’, these are simply the growing pains of being a new technology and we’re taking them in stride.”


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7 Responses to Aircell on usage, discounts and porn hoopla

  1. Bob November 12, 2008 at 4:37 pm #

    I have to ask the question, it may have been covered already by you Mary, what was their usuage goal, 1-5 persons per flight/day? Did they poll those that used the service if they would have used it without the discount at $12.95? That’s still not a good deal for a 5 hour max flight. The Hyatt I was recently at was $9.95 for 24 hours and I still had a hard time paying that.

    Besides, I’m usually in sleep-mode beyond a 2 hour flight… unless the flight attendants were doing runway shows, or I was sitting next to or close to MK. Then I would be thinking “Internet… Schminternet, bring on the pale bums”.

  2. Mary Kirby November 13, 2008 at 2:34 pm #

    Hey Bob, Aircell hasn’t specified the goal as yet. There are lots of rumours floating around that some flights are getting as little as 2-4 users, while others are in the 10-plus range. Price is still a big open question. How much are folks willing to pay when an increasing number of hotels (and some airports) are going the free route. I’ll agree with you that bums, albeit pale ones, are better than Internet. Especially in light of American’s decision to filter content. :)

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  4. Mary Kirby March 26, 2009 at 7:18 pm #

    I believe you’re referring to the assertion that Aircell actually is comfortable with the price being just under $10, so they keep it just under $13 and hand out coupons? The idea would be that Aircell is employing a common marketing practice to slightly overprice and make people feel like they are getting a deal when they get the service for less. I don’t know if that’s Aircell’s strategy, but it would make sense. $10 is more palatable…I, for one, am more comfortable with $10 (but, frankly, would pay $13 or even $15…actually I’d even pay $20 on a long-haul flight because the service is invaluable, and I could get so much work done in-flight that I could actually enjoy myself when the plane hits the ground, instead of running to find a connect at the hotel, coffee shop, etc).

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