I was traveling with mjm wired on a trip recently, and we were paying around with our phones on the flight. He told me to connect my phone to the wifi, even though I didn’t want to pay for it. Low and behold… Some apps work with inflight wifi without even paying for it!

We went though a bunch of apps, the following apps on our phones to determine which ones worked. Here’s what we found:

(Note: This was tested on GoGo, and a few weeks later on Southwest inflight wifi)

  • Google Hangouts
  • Google Voice
  • Gmail
  • Google Drive
  • Google Maps
  • Google Image Search
  • Google Search from phone search bar
  • Amazon music (only music in playlist will stream)
  • Airline app (Thanks to DI in the comments for noticing that this was missing!)

Notice a theme? Google.

The Flying Consultant and I hypothesize that these inflight wifi services use Google Analytics to monitor traffic in some way. Since they must allow access to google servers, google applications also work. I wish I had known this last year when my flight was diverted and I paid for inflight wifi so I could text my friend to pick me up.

However, this doesn’t work on laptop browsers. The key to it working is that it is an app! There may be ways to do the same thing by installing, for example, the google drive desktop application. As of now, I have not tested that.

If you have any experience with accessing these services on a laptop, please comment below!