Google's picking up the tab for passengers' Wi-Fi on Virgin America for two months: From 10-Nov-2009 to 15-Jan-2010, Virgin America's Wi-Fi is free, with Google acting as the sponsor. (Of course, I'm flying Virgin on 7-Nov and 9-Nov. It figures.)
Is this a sign that few are paying for in-flight Internet? Hard to say. Virgin America continues to put out the number that 12 to 15 percent of passengers, on average, use the service, but that number first appeared months ago, and we can't see sessions or revenue from that.
Meanwhile, an American Airline exec said in this CNN report, "Well over 40 percent of the people who use American Airlines once, use it again, and that percentage and number is growing." That seems like a good number to AA, but it seems rather low to me (despite growing), unless it implies that a relatively small percentage of regular business travelers over the last several months haven't yet tried Aircell's service at all--which would explain all the first-time free coupons out there.