Can anyone explain this one to me? My Gogo wifi speed is FASTER with my VPN running!

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gogo speed vs gogo speed with tunnelbear vpn loaded in

Gogo vs Gogo with VPN running

I do a lot of griping about SlowGo, or that is Gogo, wifi speeds on Delta jets. Delta has reps trained to tell us like robots each and every flight:

“Powered by Gogo, Delta operates the largest wifi equipped fleet” and then something about so you can do what you want, yada yada yada, if you can download at our dial-up like speeds (ok maybe they don’t say that last part, but they should) 😉

There are so many times Gogo is reasonably ok but also other times it is so slow it is all but worthless (at least I am not paying for it anymore). I have also recently tested both to, and from, Japan the Gogo satellite performance but will save that for another post (results were very interesting).

However today I have a question I want you to help me with. I have no idea why this happens and it has happened to me on a number of tests and flights recently. Take a look at the speed tests above in the opening of the post. On the left you have “clean” if you will Gogo connection. On the right, I have my Tunnel Bear VPN running. Notice anything different (other than the city the speed tester is attaching to)?

And it is not just the test that to me is the issue. Pages, sometimes, pop up SOOOOO much faster when I am running my VPN vs just connecting to Gogo. But this gets even stranger. I have found that this same thing does NOT seem to impact my laptop in the same way that it impacts my phone. That is, as I have posted before, the VPN either had no impact or slowed down my Gogo on my laptop.

Again, I am in the dark here and would love reader feedback. Why in the world would this happen? Has anyone else used Tunnel Bear VPN or their own VPN on Gogo, either on their laptop or phone, and seen a real improvement in Gogo speed and service? I would love your thoughts this weekend! – René


  1. I would imagine that GoGo has a pretty substantial caching proxy server between you and the outside world.

    This server may even be on board and configured to rate limit connections.

    By using a VPN you bypass this entirely.

    What I see as possible also is that GoGo have not put the same cap on VPN connections.

    The logic being -> VPN = business customer connecting to corporate networks = more value, less bandwidth.

    The average joe in coach streaming game of thrones -> capped, minimal value, likely to leach bandwidth.

    There are other possibilities of course

  2. Can be various factors but after looking at your speed test characteristics, it looks like the phone can’t handle the encryption overhead fast enough. Did you recently update the android software/use a custom ROM/download an “resource intensive” app? It is also possible that the VPN client could’ve updated the client to encrypt differently and therefore need a more powerful phone.

  3. I find that gogo is very slow or non-existent on a regular basis. I continue to try to use it hoping for a miracle. When contacting gogo customer assistance I usually get a credit pass but have to go through questions that implies I am not smart enough to connect to the internet. Very frustrating and then we have to see all of the media propaganda about the new faster more wonderful gogo that is coming … whatever. Perhaps it should be named “smokescreen” wifi.

  4. It is traffic shaping/QOS(quality of service)
    I would speculate that GOGO has a piece of hardware that limits the max speed of certain types of internet traffic ..

    THIS is what Net Neutrality is all about

  5. I was running Tunnel Bear while in Asia and other travels, but found it was causing issues on my iphone6 when Vpn was not being used. It was a major problem with my phone and I ended up deleting after working with Apple on it. So just an FYI before all jump in or on the TB bandwagon.

  6. I recently got to talk to a gogo tech who was at DTW doing some work for Delta. Won’t answer you’re question, but on a related note he told me Delta is putting a lot of money in to upgrading their systems. Apparently some flights will soon have speeds fast enough to stream live tv across the gogo system.

  7. When you run a speed test through a VPN you are testing the connection between the VPN server and the Internet not your physical connection. So this is in no way indicative of your connection in the air. You should see the same speed on the ground when testing your VPN.

  8. Most VPNs have compression built in, the packets getting transmitted are usually patterns or random data, but may still be easily compressed. So “air” speed (which is the bottleneck) increases.

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