Gogo Inflight Internet Tempts Users to Pay by Offering Free Facebook Access

Gogo Inflight Internet, which provides commercial airplanes with Wi-Fi hotspots, has announced it will provide Facebook access for free to passengers on seven major airlines during the month of February. By giving users access to a channel filled with links to interesting content posted by their friends, they’re likely to want to purchase the ability to follow those link

Gogo has partnered with Ford Motor Company to provide the free access on flights of AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America. Once flights of participating airlines reach 10,000 feet and passengers can flip on their electronic devices, selecting Gogo as a wireless network allows users to browse Facebook on their laptops, smartphones and PDAs.

Facebook is already Gogo’s most visited web site, USA Today reported. The offer helps familiarize users with in-flight internet and tempts users to purchase full access to Gogo’s services, which run from $4.95 to $12.95 per flight.

Gogo’s efforts to use Facebook are somewhat similar to the way Facebook itself is trying to tempt mobile users into purchasing its services. Facebook Zero uses a somewhat similar promotion with developing world mobile phone operators. By allowing these operators to offer a free version of Facebook, in some cases for a limited time only, the company hopes to get users hooked on Facebook mobile and the internet, inspiring them to purchase data plans.

Gogo is currently available on 1,100 commercial aircraft, which make about 3,800 flights a day, as well as 5,000 private planes, according to USA Today. Virgin reported that about one-third of its passengers use Gogo, and one analyst said 7% to 10% of all passengers on Wi Fi flights use the service. Gogo previously teamed up with Google to offer its services for free in December on Virgin, Delta and AirTran flights, USA today reported.

Facebook is becoming an on-ramp for data services looking to lure users to their subscriptions. This benefits Facebook, as it likely doesn’t care who’s paying for the connection as long as users are visiting the site and viewing ads.