Google's got a gift for weary wanderers as we go wheels-up on the busy holiday travel season: free Wi-Fi at 47 airports.
From now through January 15, Google, king of free on the Web (just ask Rupert "the Grinch" Murdoch), is taking its show on the proverbial road to help ease some of the strain the FAA-estimated 100 million people traveling through participating airports will feel as they encounter crowds, delays, and rebookings.
The complete list of participating airports:
Now, that's quite a list of destinations, but in addition, Google is picking up the tab for Virgin America's in-flight Wi-Fi, so jetters can do their holiday shopping from 35,000 feet without paying a fee.
Where's the catch? This is Google – they must be mining your data, building a profile on you, or they wouldn't be giving this away, right? Actually, no.
In fact, on login, Google will invite users to donate (via Google Checkout, natch) to Climate Savers Computing, Engineers Without Borders, or One Economy Corporation. Google will match contributions to each, up to $250,000 total, and will give the airport responsible for the most donations $15,000 to donate to the local non-profit of its choice.
The only slightly commercial aspect of Google's gesture is that, when logging on to the free Wi-Fi, users will be encouraged to try out the Google Chrome browser, and to change their homepages to Google. But hey, both of those are free (and easy to ignore), and Chrome actually has some pretty impressive security chops.