I think almost everyone has used Gogo and if you are a Delta flyer you simply expect it to be on just about every jet (other than the cursed CRJ200s, clearly). You also tend to expect it to be rather slow and why I sometimes jokingly call it SlowGo not Gogo. One very interesting fact was shared with me, but first a question. How many cell phones have you had in the past 10 (ten) years? Would you even think of using a 10 year old phone? Well a good chunk of Gogo tech flying around is just that old. Yep, no one thought we would be such bandwidth hungry users that long ago (were you even on the web 10 years ago?)!
But speed is coming as fast as Delta will allow it and I had a chance to try a tiny bit of what is on the way on my flight back from FTU a week ago today. I was also told 100 MBS is on the way one day.
Why is it taking so long you may ask? It is not Gogo we are waiting for it is Delta. It takes about 3 days to wire up a Delta jet for upgraded service and they do that when Delta takes a jet out of service for maintenance i.e. they are not going to ground a bird for 3 days just to install faster Gogo. More on this in a bit, but first the tour of the Gogo offices in Chicago.
They occupy a number of floors in the building and share it with other major names. The elevators have no buttons and you are given a bar code that you scan that takes you to one floor and it even tells what elevator to enter. Neat!
The have a well represented Skyteam set of jets that have Gogo and all the types of aircraft that currently have some type of wifi installed. A neat visible representation of the product.
Next up we have lots of offices and boardrooms and all of them have some kind of AVgeek type theme including airports and runway layouts. I love this type of aviation enthusiasm from Gogo.
One of the neatest rooms was the OPS center. Here they are tracking, well, just about everything. What the status of the Gogo satellites and ground basted stations is as well as payments flowing in and so much more. If there is jet in the air with Gogo installed, they are watching it real time.
Lastly on this tour is the Gogo test jet. Well it is not really a jet but a room built like part of a jet that is encased in copper (check out the door) and it thus blocks all signals from the outside world. The only thing folks inside get is what Gogo produces much like what we see at 32k. With a room attached with one-way glass they hire folks to come in and test out all kinds of new stuff including the interface one devices (even if you are sitting in middle seat). I guess I would want to score an upgrade if they are going to ever use me as a test person! 😉
Other geek bits was that the old units, when the FA flips the switch to reset the Gogo system can take up to 20 minutes to fully boot back up. The new unit will do that in half the time with SSD or solid state drives vs. the old mechanical type drives. Even the birds that do not get 2KU will still have upgraded ground based Gogo so over time all should be markedly improved. Yes, I agree, it can not come soon enough but remember some of the delay is waiting for Delta to get the birds in for upgrades!
Now on to all the other exciting bits, I was told the upgraded K2U Delta birds should have gate-to-gate wifi ability. This would be amazing. I have reached out to Delta to confirm this and asked if there will be any limitations on this but am still waiting for an update. Exciting if it does work to not have to wait for 10k or have your device stop working at 10k on the way down.
Another big question or comment I often get on the blog is something like: “Oh even with the faster wifi just wait till you get 100 people online – it will slow down“! I am told it will not and they have tested it with dozens and dozens of folks in the air all streaming video with negative impact. I know, we can’t wait, I have already mentioned that.
I also asked about the all the credit cards like the non-Delta AMEX Business Platinum card and others that come with free wifi coupons / codes each year if that was profitable for Gogo. I was told they are and they plan to keep them going. Not just that but some airlines are choosing just to pay Gogo and offer the wifi free to those onboard. Interesting but I sure don’t expect Delta to do this any time soon!
Overall it really was a fun visit and great to learn what is on the way for those of us who fly Delta as their airline of choice! – René
Full disclosure. I paid for my own transpiration, tolls and parking to visit Gogo in Chicago. I was given a few in-flight Gogo passes and a some Delta 747 models to giveaway on the blog as well as some snacks & drinks at the AVgeek meetup later in the day. The latter had no impact on my review of this visit.