Google’s holiday WiFi gift – 15 of 47 airports already had free Internet

I love free stuff — lots of people do. That’s probably one big reason why Google’s offer of free WiFi at 47 participating airports during the holidays (through Jan. 15) sounds so nice. But looks can be deceiving.
I didn’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I peeked at the list of airports and was intrigued at what I saw — several airports where I knew they already offered free Internet (including Las Vegas, Sacramento and San Diego).
A couple dozen Google searches revealed that nearly a third of the 47 airports participating in Google’s program had pre-existing free WiFi in place (view the list). Two more airports (Seattle-Tacoma and Burbank) stated they would participate in Google’s program and then continue offering free service after Jan. 15.
Part of this rubbed me the wrong way — could Google claim credit for offering free WiFi at airports where it already existed? Could it also claim that it was offering free WiFi at other airports with free Internet (like at Chico, Calif. and Hancock, Mich.)?
According to, many airports not on Google’s list offer free Internet. Even that list is incomplete (I noticed that Chico and Hancock aren’t listed).
To be fair, someone has to pay for Internet access that is offered for “free” to the end user. According to Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, the San Jose airport has had free Internet since May 2008. Officials said Google was offsetting the cost of offering the free service during the holidays.
Ultimately, I can be more jolly than Grinch-y about Google’s gift. For a limited time, Google is offering free Internet at more than 30 airports where there currently is a fee (typically about $8/day). Hopefully, more airports will pursue free Internet solutions in the future.
Also, Google will match up to $250,000 worth of donations made over the WiFi networks to three charities.
A list of the airports participating in the Google Free Holiday WiFi is available after the jump.

Airport names and if they offered free Internet

  • Austin (AUS) – Yes, four free kiosks
  • Baltimore (BWI) – No
  • Billings (BIL) – No
  • Boston (BOS) – No
  • Bozeman (BZN) – No
  • Buffalo (BUF) – No
  • Burbank (BUR) – No (at least through Oct. 2008, Free in future)
  • Central Wisconsin (CWA) – No
  • Charlotte (CLT) – Yes
  • Des Moines (DSM) – No
  • El Paso (ELP) – No
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL) – Yes
  • Fort Myers/SW (RSW) – Yes
  • Greensboro (GSO) – No
  • Houston (HOU) – No
  • Houston Bush (IAH) – No
  • Indianapolis (IND) – Yes
  • Jacksonville (JAX) – Yes
  • Kalamazoo (AZO) – No
  • Las Vegas (LAS) – Yes
  • Louisville (SDF) – No
  • Madison (MSN) – No
  • Memphis (MEM) – No
  • Miami (MIA) – No
  • Milwaukee (MKE) – No
  • Monterey (MRY) – No
  • Nashville (BNA) – No
  • Newport News (PHF) – No
  • Norfolk (ORF) – ??? (Probably No)
  • Oklahoma City (OKC) – No
  • Omaha (OMA) – Yes
  • Orlando (MCO) – Yes
  • Panama City (PFN) – ???
  • Pittsburgh (PIT) – Yes
  • Portland (PWM) – No
  • Sacramento (SMF) – Yes
  • San Antonio (SAT) – Yes
  • San Diego (SAN) – Yes
  • San Jose (SJC) – Yes
  • Seattle (SEA) – No (free in future)
  • South Bend (SBN) – No
  • Spokane (GEG) – No
  • St. Louis (STL) – No
  • State College (SCE) – No
  • Toledo (TOL) – No
  • Traverse City (TVC) – No
  • West Palm Beach (PBI) – Yes