Gogo airplane WiFi works, but everything else about Gogo is a tire fire

By | August 8, 2019

I took a United Airlines flight today. I attempted to buy WiFi from Gogo during the flight. The purchase went through OK, and the WiFi then started working for me as expected, but that’s when the problems started.

After I paid Gogo, it displayed a page informing me that a receipt had been emailed to me, then after a few seconds switched to another page telling me that I was now connected to WiFi, with a button to click to view my account on the Gogo web site. I needed that receipt so I could submit it as an expense for work. There was no receipt in my email. (fail #1)

“No problem,” I said to myself, “I’ll just click on the button to view my account on web site and screenshot or download a receipt from there.”

I clicked the button. It brought be back to the same page with the same button on it. (fail #2)

I clicked it again. The second time it brought me to a login page, but the login page wouldn’t accept my Gogo username — it demanded an email address — despite the fact that I had just logged in with that same username when purchasing the WiFi service. (fail #3)

I tried logging in using my my email address instead of Gogo username, and the login page wouldn’t let me log in, i.e., even after entering my username and password, clicking the “Sign In” button had no effect. (fail #4)

I tried visiting the Gogo web site to log into it directly rather than through the page flow described above, but whenever I tried to go to https://gogoair.com/, it redirected me to the “You’re connected” page described above with the button to the login form that doesn’t work. Note that this is not the page you see when you go to https://gogoair.com/ from the ground. (fail #5)

The flight I was on was a bit less than an hour long, and Gogo WiFi can only be used when the plane is above 10,000 feet, so there was maybe 40 minutes on this flight during which WiFi was usable. I had by now spent nearly half of that trying to get a receipt for my purchase.

At this point I spent several more minutes searching around the web site trying to find out how to contact Gogo before locating their live chat option. I initiated a live chat and explained my two problems to the agent on the other end: I never got a receipt, and I can’t log into my Gogo account to get one because the login page doesn’t work.

The agent said he was going resend my receipt via email. A couple minutes later I received two receipt emails, but they were both blank, i.e., they were just the template of what a receipt from Gogo is supposed to look like, without any of the actual receipt information filled in. (fail #6)

There was a “My Account” link in the receipte emails, which I figured might actually take me to a page where I could log in successfully unlike all of my previous attempts, but when I clicked that link, it failed to load; apparently it doesn’t work while connected to Gogo WiFi (fail #7), because it worked just fine when I clicked it after getting off the plane.

The agent then asked me to try some things which I’d already tried, and then sent me a different login URL to try. I tried to log in at that URL, and this time the “Sign In” button actually worked, but rather than logging me in it displayed a big red error box with the message “We’re experiencing a temporary issue, please try again later,” or something like that. (fail #8)

I told the agent that, and he suggested I try it in an incognito window. I did, and it failed in a different way (fail #9):

HTTP Status 404 - /app/dal/ifc/
type Status report
message /app/dal/ifc/
description The requested resource (/app/dal/ifc/) is not available.
JBossWeb/2.0.0.GA_CP

By this point I had used up nearly all of the time available for WiFi on the flight, so I asked the agent for a refund, which he issued. There was also this exchange:

Jonathan Kamens: No receipt emailed. When the receipt is finally emailed, it’s blank. When I click on the link in the receipt, the page fails to load. Can’t log in. Three different problems all of which prevent me from logging in. I mean this is ridiculous, don’t you think?
[agent]: yes
Jonathan Kamens: I know none of this is your fault, but I mean, who built the technology at your company, kindergarteners?
[agent]: refund number: [deleted]
[agent]: I will send the details to your email
[agent]: Our best intention in Gogo is that you enjoy your service during your flight. I personally apologize for the issues you faced today. This is not a typical behavior and we are not expecting this for your next flight.

I am amused the agent answered, “yes,” to, “I mean this is ridiculous, don’t you think?”

Incidentally, the refund details which he said he was sending via email never arrived. (fail #10) We shall see if the refund actually shows up on my next credit card statement.

The original receipt, which Gogo had claimed was emailed to me immediately when I purchased the WiFi service, finally arrived over an hour after the purchase. According to the Date: header in that email, it wasn’t even sent until that time. I.e., when the web site told me over an hour prior that a receipt “had been sent” to me via email, it was lying. (fail #11)

I’m going to have to assume that the people who built Gogo’s WiFi connectivity technology, which seems pretty solid, are a different group from the people who built the company’s web site and ecommerce platform, which is, as I hope I’ve made clear above, absolute trash.

Do better, Gogo.

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